[REVIEW] All You Do is Perceive, by Joy Katz


Four Way Books
84 pages/ $15.95

Review by Rachel Mennies

I read All you Do Is Perceive in transit. I read in places where Joy Katz herself may have conducted studies for this polyphonous collection: on the subway. In the airport. I listened to the child in the seat behind me wail, our plane delayed, as Katz’s speaker describes the early weeks of life with her adopted son: “The parents, as if clubbed between the eyes / but with no memory of it, regard the infant / who has no self regard…”

Especially surrounded by this pulsing human noise, Katz’s third collection of poetry shows readers a loud, beautifully chaotic world rendered with astonishing precision. The speakers throughout position themselves as observers at all scales: a poem for the tiny pot of jam, described and imagined from each side; a poem for the lettuce in its plastic bag; a poem for the moment the speaker first touches her child. We try on Katz’s sharp, lyric visions, even literally in “Excuse Me, Where is Varick Street?”: “Can you see out of my eyeholes?” asks the speaker. “Are you comfortable?” Throughout the collection, these poems enact the process of making sense of a world suddenly and gloriously disrupted by the presence of new life. Continue reading

Eat Drink Book: Joy Katz, All You Do is Perceive


Joy Katz, All You Do is Perceive
(With a bonus New Year’s Day Black-Eyed Pea recipe)

By Sherrie Flick

For the past three years I’ve celebrated New Year’s Eve in Key Largo with the writer Chuck Kinder, his wife Diane Cecily, and my husband Rick Schweikert. Chuck and Diane’s rental has a beautiful deck on which one can drink coffee, wine, and cocktails while watching dolphins frolic and manatees loll in the Gulf of Mexico. The view is like the idea of love manifested. The view reminds me of the wonderful last line of the title poem of Joy Katz’s new book: “I was given nothing but the air, and the air dazzled.”

I ring in the New Year with friends and a sunset, eat fish, sip cocktails, with a final clink of champagne glasses around the table. “Let’s toast to another year!” we say. “I’m still alive!” Chuck says. And we laugh and toast again.


New Years Day I make spicy black-eyed peas. I’m actually doing this right now as I write this post. They’re bubbling on the stove. Simmering away—offering up potential, celebrating hope.

While I wait on the peas, I’m also reading the poetry collection All You Do is Perceive by Joy Katz. I’m perched on a bar stool at the kitchen counter, palm trees sway outside the big picture window. Continue reading