The Vital System, Tupelo Press 2012
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There is no doubt, CM Burroughs is one of those few beings who are hewn out of the living body of Poetry. But the poem speaks, says Celan. The poem, that is to say, this body which is at one with language, which breathes, swallows, revels in its house of words. How does one recognize a poem? By the fact that, when one reads it, one can feel this living thing caressing us inwardly, licking our hearts, weeping tears into our blood. A poem drips through to us. In an injection of luminous sentences. There is no doubt, each thought of CM Burroughs’s is a poem. The reunion of the self with its primeval worlds. CM Burroughs delves into the ultra-sensitive roots of being; where sufferings and desires take shape, she gathers each breath as yet unheard and leads it to speech.— Hélène Cixous


CM Burroughs’s provocative first collection enacts the ways in which the very nature of thought is brokenness and disruption. Saturated in red, full of ellipses, slash marks, lacunae, brackets, and all manner of typographical signaling, this work bristles with a Hopkins-like clashing of syllables and haunting silences. In its challenging engagement with the page as a visual field, The Vital System submerges narrative while never wholly abandoning it. Words cut, tear and scar, “thin blades shining”; “grateful to be haunted.” If the word “I” is in itself both an infected and glorious thing, how are we to think of it?—this is one of the compelling questions implicit at the heart of this book so full of vivid cusps and strivings.
— Laurie Sheck


With gorgeous horror, Burroughs’s debut thrusts the body forward as an intelligence, a syntax, a theater. The narrator of these poems seems to come apart before my eyes; yet she never disintegrates — she teems. Here is vivid grief, livid vulnerability and bristling sensuality. Here is terrible resilience and dangerous vitality.— Douglas Kearney