[10/05/2021] Little Pharma by Laura Kolbe
University of Pittsburgh Press, paperback
Publication Date: October 5, 2021
Publisher Marketing: The title Little Pharma is both a doppelgänger and a cri de coeur: as the poet's dreamlike double, the character Little Pharma navigates the murky channels of the hospital and clinic, the borderlands of the living and the dead, and the journey from novice to healer. At the same time, the poems plead for a return to a littler pharma, a space for stolen intimacy and momentary quiet amidst the impersonal and engulfing chill that floods the anatomical theater and the corridors of illness. The poems trace the arc of a young woman's life, from being a hesitant and anxious, newly-minted medical trainee to becoming an adept of the otherworldly logic of the hospital wards. In between, interludes on love, family life, and escapes into art and history bob and weave among the hospital poems, bringing back the hot clamor of the outside world. Little Pharma is a Dantean journey from the depths of an institution, and of a pervading personal dread, to a renewed celebration of human contact, the body, and the giddy, terrifying excitement of ongoing life.