June 25, 2009

Review by Rebecca Ellis

by Pamela Garvey

Finishing Line Press
Post Office Box 1626
Georgetown, KY 40324
ISBN 978-1-59924-236-1
2008, 27 pp., $12.00

If only I could’ve pinned the angel down.
But the angel is winds
sweeping through fingers like sand,
each grain gliding coldly up the arms
into the frantic heart,
then the seed tumbled through my body. Released,
I turned suddenly, as if the angel had a face,
could be pointed to in a line of men.

I wish I’d written that. It’s the ending of Pamela Garvey’s poem, “The Annunciation” — one of many breathless moments in her chapbook, Fear, that pulled me back for another reading of a poem, and another, and another.

“The Annunciation” takes on motherhood, womanhood and religion from the point of view of the woman who experiences it all, perhaps more directly than anyone else ever has. In drawing the poem from that point of view, Garvey goes so far inside the experience that each thought, each physical sensation is utterly real and fully imagined. Mary is as real as your own sister, just as physical and fragile and strong. She confronts the tangible shock of the angel, and faces forces larger than herself that invite her to something important but at the price of her own volition. She is surprised, a victim and survivor who never for a moment loses her ability to face the experience and never backs away from her power to speak about it, to declare it for what it is. And it is both more and less than she might have expected.

Garvey delivers a portrait of the woman and of the transformation, and the portrait is accessible and astonishing. Continue reading

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January 20, 2009

Review by Rebecca Ellis

by Karyna McGlynn

Destructible Heart Press
P.O. Box 257
Albuquerque, NM
ISBN: 978-1-934415-20-7
2008, 45 pp., $10.00

This is not easy stuff. Sure, it’s just a chapbook. Sure, it’s entertaining. On the surface—and sometimes under the surface—it’s light and funny with dazzling bright edges and breathtaking leaps. The writing is surprisingly dense, layered with history and mystery that at times require you to dig deep in order to experience the full effect of what’s going on. You’re going to have to work hard to get at the writing and much of the wit in this chapbook.

But you’re going to have a really really good time doing it.

Alabama Steve is a series of flash fictions that hop irreverently through the Western literary cannon, deflating everyone from Robert Lowell to Beowulf, punching little holes in class pretensions and literary tradition, and especially academia and MFA programs. McGlynn’s language pops and surprises and enlightens even as it twists your shorts in a knot.

Continue reading

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