Praise for Slide to Unlock:
"Julie E. Bloemeke's Slide to Unlock is a kind of philosophical love poetry, and in it, the poet locates in the body the satisfactions of the mind: 'There is no place but here, / submerged, the flower of me, / the flower of you, both coded to open, / but brought instead to salt, / converted to everlasting.' Lines like these spiral and unwind in Bloemeke's opus. This is a lovely book." - Jericho Brown, author of The New Testament, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry
"Is it possible for a lyric poet to bring the rawest complications of the adult heart, an orchestra-conductor's authority of syntax, a pristinely liberating imagination, and a virtual mixtape's range of voices, reference, and places together into a single, unified, seemingly narrative, utterly dazzling whole? Julie E. Bloemeke's Slide to Unlock confirms: it is." - Jane Hirshfield, author of Ledger
"Slide to Unlock is Julie E. Bloemeke's first full-length collection of poems, an effort which she admits took ten years to complete, and it is bad news for the competition...Slide to Unlock is at its heart a book that, in words almost offered as a gift, endeavors to reach all of us where we are most alone, that moves through and beyond the physical to what can only be described as the spiritual. One finally understands, too, having finished the volume, the insistence of language, Bloemeke's will to know not the right but the exactly right word, such that we also know, at last, "that we/ were the ones/ unable to be/ left/ to our own/ devices." -Gordon Van Ness for South Carolina Review
“Slide to Unlock consumed me. By layering first person pronouns, complicating their relationship to memory, Julie E. Bloemeke foregrounds questions of agency, complicity, and loyalty. She does this at the level of the line as well as the book. She does this carefully, recklessly, with immaculate control, palpating the conventions of fidelity in romantic relationships and their relation to the self across time… This desire to identify the “We” speaks directly to the feminine socialization which encourages us to define the “I” as part of a relationship, conditioned by the amatonormative gaze--to be seen as someone's girl. Which is to say that these poems interrogate femininity, making the noun, muse, a site of conflict and contention… I remain haunted by these poems…” Alina Stefanescu for Up the Staircase Quarterly
"The sense of connection and disconnection in [the title poem] sets the tone for the rest of the collection—which, not insignificantly, is itself a technological creation, an attempt to communicate, a world that generates its own light...The collection ultimately suggests, however, that modern digital technologies are not alone in their creation of distance when we long for intimacy. Rather, our bodies themselves are a kind of technology for keeping what’s inside in and what’s outside out...we understand that the act of touching—whether it’s a phone screen or another person—is an act of creation that’s defined by simultaneous distance and connection. This conundrum of desiring an impossible intimacy is, perhaps, part of the human condition. We can only ever do our best to connect, despite all the various kinds of distance that lie between us..." Vivian Wagner for Pedestal Magazine
"..In the collection’s title poem, Bloemeke writes, “We are undone / by the promise of resolution, // temptation.” In Slide to Unlock, Bloemeke carefully explores this state of being undone by too much and never enough — too much communication, but never enough resolution, never enough solace from words either on a screen or in a letter. The poems expertly move from moments in time, miles crossed — from teenage years in the 80s where communication is “the receiver // waiting / in its cradle // where an answer / could remain” (“Rotary Ode”) to the lovelorn streets of Venice and Paris looking for “So many combinations / of we, or us, sealed in the vow of click” (“Lock Bridge, 2008”)...
...These poems are intimate, honest, and at times, searing....
...Slide to Unlock is a testament to our time, especially now where so many of us are locked in, thinking, missing, reminiscing. As in the poem “Passing Hugo Boss,” we understand the ache of “the longing / the sudden negative space,” the wistful desire to fill this with memory, with myth-making. To pick up a cell phone, begin an email is so easy — a seemingly impersonal act that in fact, is quite personal. We yearn as humans are wont to do, as Bloemeke writes in “Letter to My Husband”, “She has her story. The myth / continues to rise.” And here, the myth rises powerfully in its timely truth..." Amanda Auchter for The Indianapolis Review
"In Slide to Unlock (Sibling Rivalry Press), Julie E. Bloemeke explores the ways in which the sometimes cold touch of technology can connect us to our deeper desires, even when it threatens to disconnect us from the people around us.
Phones provide a clever and compelling through-line, starting with the eponymous first poem: "Once, we could depend / on the corded spiral of miles, // delay ourselves with the orbit / of finger wheel...." The present, though, is faster-moving and far less certain. Smartphone screens that unlocked with the swipe of a finger only a few years ago now demand thumbprints and facial recognition to reveal their "bright trick of letters." The body itself has been turned into a key; the phone, a door to the past and future.
Divided into four sections, Slide to Unlock guides us through a speaker's personal history that is also a history of modern communication. The section "Call Waiting" moves us from the beginnings of self-awareness and sexuality into the first years of a marriage; in the poem "Scar Season" from that section, a girl with chicken pox is warned to ignore the "threat of my body / tied to itch."
The adult speaker in the final section, "Cellular," fully inhabits her body yet longs for physical and emotional intimacy. In the poem "Infidelity," the speaker addresses her husband not with an admission or accusation, but rather a frank awareness about her own family history:
[...] I came to our marriage
with flagrant truths, progeny
of ancestors openly in other beds,
ruined vows, the choice sometimes
to break, the choice sometimes to endure.
This is not the story of a marriage unraveling, but the more complicated, particular, and moving story of a woman reconciling herself to an undeniable, almost genetic, desire for self-expression; she is steeling herself for both the connection and alienation that may result from this authenticity.
The final poem, "Slide to Unlock: Blue Note," provides consolation rather than pat resolution. "Some things in me cannot be held. / I married a man that knew this and somehow // blessed my brokenness."
Bloemeke's language throughout her debut collection is both precise and dynamic, tangible and dreamlike. By finding the balance between extremes, Bloemeke thus provides the lyrical analogue of the speaker's journey, which is all the more rewarding for its complexity."