A Conversation with My Imaginary Daughter (Bloom, 2013)
Winner of the 2012 Bloom Chapbook Prize for Poetry, selected by contest judge Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon.
??It is a long road to Moxie,? notes the speaker in ?The Reality Show,? one of the twenty-four contemplative and ultimately hopeful poems that make up A Conversation with My Imaginary Daughter. Moxie, a throwback expression denoting the ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage, aggressive energy, initiative, skill and know how, derives from the name of a soft drink first manufactured in the 1880s and sold as medicine. So the poems in this chapbook give us the view, forwards and backwards, along that long, strange road. The speaker, an observant, guides us through literary allusion, pop culture and pageantry, noting the rules. ?The script/ compels the enemies to hold hands,? we discover early, in ?Beyond the Rocks.? Though these poems escape into the movies, they don?t refuse a duty to engage. Instead, the screen provides space to rearrange elements of narrative and there(by) find possibility and humor. ?Bang, Bang! Yip, Yip!? asks, ?If art lives outside of chronology, why not costume it like a Harlequin?? Noting ?There are 1,649 shades of gray,? ?The Projectionist? moves from Matthew Arnold, recognizing the sea?s supposed sadness lies within himself, to Anita Hill in the classroom, unrecognized by her own college students, before returning to Paul Henreid, Casablanca?s Victor Laszlo himself, in a white dinner jacket, the man who, when told, ?We read five times you were killed, in five different places,? responds, ?As you can see, it was true every single time.? A sad, shrewd humor permeates this collection, as does a palpable sense of gratitude. What?s Franchot Tone to the fight one wages for identity against one?s mother, or Moses to the zeitgeist, except, in every life, connections to a vibrant imagined past that mark the borders? As the speaker notes in ?Second Banana,? ?Unity is the moment when living becomes history.? Creators in the picture with the obligation to mark each performance, throughout, we find, ?We are wiser than our actions. . . .We see that now is always happening, it never ends.??
?Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, author of Open Interval
Metaphysical Bailout (Pudding House Press, 2010)
?When the world rights itself, bears will turn into bulls,? the title poem of Metaphysical Bailout promises. After the recent Wall Street crash, we struggled to understand what had happened economically. Bankers, politicians, and newscasters contorted language in new ways to express?and ultimately obscure and perpetuate?an old story of American life: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The eighteen poems in this chapbook highlight the bizarre and at times humorous ways in which language is perverted to support power, even while showing how language and story insist on telling on a greater truth. As ?Modern Maturity? asks, ?What if one day the men you trusted/ walked out, and suddenly,/ you woke up??