Natural history, work, queerness, and family collide in Interpretive Work. When they do, a deep stubborn will emerges, a belief in the unexpected beauty of the world “flaws and all. The poems of this collection foreground the role of the viewer” the interpreter “smudging self across what’s seen.”
From neighborhood kids cussing in the cul-de-sac to marbled murrelets calling in Southeast Alaska, the poems of this book reach toward a moment where one finds “this unsettlement, / this beauty applauded at last.”
Bradfield delivers her bruised truths through a quiet honesty that stands in ardent defense of mainstream normative expectations. A male singer has a woman’s high, sweet voice, redefining beauty. A female deer grows antlers. A woman chooses to be child-free without regret. As a whole, these poems furtively suggest that the tourist on the sunset cruise ship misinterprets the cravings of humpback whales in the same way Bradfield’s family, neighbors and bureaucratic officials misunderstand love, sexuality and gender.
Interpretive Work was awarded the 2009 Audre Lorde Award from the Publishing Triangle.