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These poems are sometimes terrifyingly raw, sometimes gentle.  Here's a sample from the middle of the book--after we've glimpsed insights into mothering, smothering, and awakening.

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The Daughter Who Left

 

Reconstruct that last day: her, standing in the doorway, suitcase in hand

straining to leave as though strapped to us, always tearful in her memories

reluctant gratitude behind closed eyes, but so anxious to get out.

 

She is everywhere in this house, frozen behind picture frames

trapped in a smile that changes every time the smudged glass is dusted

sometimes, she is happy. Mostly, she is barely tolerant.

 

There are conversations half-remembered that take on new meaning

each time they’re replayed, new depth: wisdom beyond the years

of an unhappy five-year-old, harbinger to the years of dead silence far ahead.

 

 

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Several pages later we find this--and include it here because it helps to explain the book's cover--an almost surreal needlepoint done by the author.  We leave it to you, dear reader, to figure out what degree of control and spontaneity come together in creating edgy poems and in needling a human figure onto canvas.  The thread is there.

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 On the Right Path

 

 In this room written entirely on paper

there is comfort in the nodding and agreeing of flowers; they

tell me that I am not just a crazy woman sitting alone

rambling about dark matter to an invisible audience

sketching out the history of myth in thread and canvas

 

tumbling inward into myself like a monk

quiet, at peace.

 

My daughter says she’s worried about me

being alone all the time, wants to know

what I’ve been writing but I won’t show her.

Someday, I will reveal the secrets

to the future of humanity to her, the origin of snails

the language of pills. But not now.

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 And still later, this tribute to a woman's strength

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The Things that Come in the Mail

 

the flowers come in the mail, with the cards, with the lovely notes

expressing sympathy for our loss. I don’t want to answer the door anymore

want to let the tiny wreaths pile up, wither away.

 

I smile, thank the delivery man for my mail, I smile at my husband

I smile

at everyone. I call relatives to let them know I’m fine, I don’t need

anything. I thank them for their kindness and for the flowers.

my husband compliments me on my strength, I reply with

another smile. my face hurts from smiling so much. at night

 

I find myself talking to the missing baby, holding

my hands over my stomach, protecting nothing. I shuffle through

these days, find comfort in repetitive tasks. I vacuum constantly.

I crochet mittens for everyone. I turn inside myself

 

hold back everything but this smile, the one I show my family

my husband—it’s all I’ve got left.

 

 

Jack Powers Interviewed for National Poetry Month

Congratulations to Jack Powers on this wonderful celebration of his new collection, Everybody's Vaguely Familiar.  He was interviewed on National Writing Project, launching National Poetry Month. He's interviewed by Tanya Baker and Bryan Ripley Crandall about his work with young poets, especially those involved in the Connecticut Writing Project.    

https://content.blubrry.com/nwpradio/041119-nwp-radio-jack-powers-npm.mp3

If you're interested in writing, teaching, or Connecticut, check out this link:

https://lead.nwp.org/?s=connecticut

Great Review of ONE-EYED MAN AND OTHER STORIES

One-Eyed Man and Other Stories, by Geoffrey Craig

I promise to follow in the next few days with the final segment of my First Democracy review, but first a change of pace. The following review of Geoffrey Craig’s new collection of stories is by Sandy Raschke at Small Press Book Review. A few years ago, when I was managing editor at New Works Review, I had the pleasure of editing one of these stories, “Morocco,” which I still remember with some vividness, if that tells you anything.  I have previously reviewed his novel, Scudder’s Gorge, on this blog. Beyond that, I refer you to Raschke’s review:

One-Eyed Man and Other Stories by Geoffrey Craig, Golden Antelope Press, 300 pgs, ISBN: 978-1-936135-57-8. $21.95, paperback.

Geoffrey Craig’s new short story collection contains twenty-one stories, all of them an insightful look into the human condition. The book is divided into five sections, each with four to five stories. Most concern the lives of minorities—Latino and African-American, and one segment, The Carmichael stories, which have previously been published in Calliope, are about the descendants of Swedish immigrants. The one stand alone story, “Morocco,” lingered a long while after I finished it.

The Blue Heron Lake stories are about a community of Latino workers within the general population and how one, Pedro Sanchez, rises to prominence and becomes the mayor. When, in the story “Upheaval,” he suggests making Blue Heron Lake a sanctuary city, all hell breaks loose. After various threats and a “no” vote by the Council, Pedro thinks seriously about resigning and moving away, but then with the help of his wife, decides to stay and fight another day for what he believes is right.

            The Brandon Forsythe segment is about a young African-American man who is wrongly convicted of a crime. When he is released from prison, he can’t find work and ends up in a drug ring, eventually rising to the position of drug lord. Then he has an epiphany and after the death of his beloved wife from cancer, slowly transitions into a legitimate business person and philanthropist.

The Snake stories are about a struggling black family in South Carolina and follow them over a period of twenty years, from 1919 to 1933. It is the period of the KKK, lynching and burning, and Craig deftly reveals how hard it is to survive amid a “Whites Only” policy.

In the story, “Lying in Wait,” the narrator and his wife, Mary, find one of their children bitten by a snake; they rush him into town to be treated—and are refused service at the hospital. They are told to take the boy to the “Negro” part of town where there “might be” a doctor. Unfortunately, the boy dies just as they reach the “Negro” doctor’s office and the narrator compares his child’s death to the lynching of his brother James shortly after he returned from Europe after World War I.

“Morocco” is about two women, bunkmates on a freighter to Morocco. One woman, Abigail, has lost her entire family in a terrible house fire; the other, Tracy, is a hip young woman, who likes to smoke marijuana, but is grieving over the end of her last relationship, of which there have been many and never successful. The two women, a generation apart, at first don’t understand each other, but eventually lift the veils of their own disappointments and sorrows and end up visiting Morocco together, where they develop a bond after rescuing a little boy being carried out to sea.

In these stories, Geoffrey Craig has woven a rich tapestry of narrative and dialogue, to create three-dimensional characters, who reveal their strengths, weaknesses, their triumphs and failures, each within its own historical capsule of place and time. This collection spotlights Craig’s growing talents as a writer and the depths of his understanding of the American character.

Highly recommended.

Coming soon: Jerry Burger's THE SHADOWS OF 1915

Golden Antelope is happy to announce that it will be publishing Jerry Burger's first novel, The Shadows of 1915, this summer.  Burger is best known for his social psychology expertise--his textbook, Personality, has gone through nine editions; his (milder and more ethical) replication of the Milgram Experiment on obedience to authority has also become something of a classic. In Returning Home, he explores the reasons adults return to the places where they grew up. 

In The Shadows of 1915 Burger uses insights gathered from a lifetime of humane and sensitive work, avoiding academic jargon and creating memorably individualized, characters--as real, charming, arrogant, and/or gently poetic as you'd ever want to meet.  What "shadows" their lives in the 1950s of this novel is a set of events now recognized as the "Armenian genocide."  Most of the young men and women in the novel (Arak, Serena, Mihran) were born into an Armenian community in Fresno, California years after the Turkish government brutalized their parents--but some of them seem to bear--and to treasure--the scars of that time and place. 

This is a deeply perceptive book, using its beautifully developed characters  to quietly raise questions about cultural resonance, gender roles, immigration policies, labor rights, religious rites, and even the "me too" movement.                   

A blast from the past: a mostly accurate profile of Golden Antelope's founder

Looking for information about Sanskrit professors, I happened upon this old (2010) article from Truman State University's student newspaper about this guy named Neal Delmonico--the guy I married.   Posting it is an ego trip; yes, of course it is.  I'll probably delete it in a couple of days.

http://index.truman.edu/pdf/2009-2010/march4/page11.pdf