. . . a subtle yet edgy invective against bourgeoisie homogenization; a defense of poetry, a plea for love.
— Bomb Magazine

Lila Moskowitz is a smart-mouthed, Jewish-American beauty with a voracious appetite for sex, a remarkable talent for telling lies, and an unerring knack for making a mess of her life. An accomplished poet, she is renowned for writing "smut and filth in terza rima."

Having fled the all- consuming passion of her marriage, she can no longer compose so much as a couplet; ghosts have taken over her apartment, and the contrast between her feelings for her present lover and her former husband is breaking her heart. Insight comes with the realization that love can be undone by the same desires that nurture it. Lila knows that she has to take action, and in doing so learns some startling truths about herself, her capacity for love, and the nature of true freedom.


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Praise for Pure poetry

"Kirshenbaum sings out, raunchy and exquisite in a voice of New York smarts and literary daring that continues to grow even stronger and more original."
—Entertainment Weekly

"Binnie Kirshenbaum has a wonderful gift for turning cliches inside out and making conventional wisdom run for cover. . . . This fiercely clever writer is a true anarchic spirit."
—Lynne Sharon Schwartz

"Kirshenbaum's sharp, heartbreaking, brilliantly written novel breathes life back into the expanding cache of novels about the trauma of being single and female in the big city. This is an intelligent, hilarious, extraordinary book."



"I mustn't oppress Kirshenbaum with too many great names, yet I invoke these (Wagner, Mailer, Shaw) because I fear that the neat candor and structural cunning of Pure Poetry may distract a reader who is being (supremely) entertained by Lila Moskowitz and her agons with race, class, and sexual autonomy from the tragic instances of her fate."
Richard Howard

"A hilarious ribald wit . . . reveals a gritty, honest, frank, frightened woman."
—San Jose Mercury News

"Most of us wouldn't think of sestinas as sexy or find anything voluptuous about a villanelle, and that's one reason why the heroine of Pure Poetry is so thoroughly entertaining."
—The Daily Jewish Forward