July 20, 2009

Review by Emme Devonish

by Julie Otten

Pavement Saw Press
P.O. Box 6291
Columbus, OH 43206
ISBN 1-886350-64-7
2006, 84pp., $12.00

Julie Otten’s Milk Chip Monday tracks a girl’s life from adolescence to womanhood. Her long narrative poems resemble diary entries. The verses are marked with direct, graphic language, which leaves lasting impressions.

Otten grew up in Springfield, Ohio, spent six years in New York then returned to live in Columbus where she teaches English. Milk Chip Monday is her second full-length book.

Otten’s work inundates the reader with American pop culture references from the 1970s through the present. For example, some of the poems are named after Hollywood icons whether real or fictional: “The Death of Andy Gibb,” “The Death of Keith Partridge,” “The Death of Sean Cassidy,” and “Me and Mo and Julie McCoy.”

Almost all of the other poems contain some reference to celebrities such as Marie Osmond, Jane Seymour, Kristie McNichol, Mia Farrow, Roman Polanski, etc. These endless references to Hollywood stars, even in “Alyce’s Hair,” do not mask the deep-seated pain of the narrator’s life. The rage of the narrator’s voice is consistent throughout the book as the poems reveal an upbringing overshadowed with sexual and physical abuse.

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