Paula Bonnell

Books

tales retold
will be published in early spring 2017. Its poems give new takes on stories from ancient myth, folk and fairy tales, even 20th-century news. Heroes and villains, bit-part players and protagonists, female and male, human and animal, bystanders, witnesses, and perpetrators each offer their perspective on what's going on in stories you'll recognize.

Before the Alphabet

This chapbook -- a story in poems -- tells of a child's in kindergarten year. Autographed copies are now available. Click blue title above.




A citydweller listens outward in expanding circles, from a bedroom window to neighborhood, city, and points near and far on the planet as particular voices and scraps of sound connect heres with theres.
A world giving voice. To the sleeper awakening in the city, the pedestrian going to work or returning, the reader reaching back in English or mathematics or history, the imagination investigating music or language or event, a world reveals itself. In birdsong, urban snowmen, a gift of applesauce, the grass of a putting green, a klezmer clarinet, a nightmare mirror, a monstrous hedge; from leeks in the kitchen to a riverscape to visions of Paris, Barcelona, and Konigsberg; through brief appearances of Pepys, Fernande Olivier, Ben Jonson, and Martin Luther King,Jr., as well as by the question of a downstairs neighbor -- a multiplicity of voices portrays the gifts, constraints, and liberties of the social fabric. Not just people and their links to each other, but animals, plants, things, images, art, music, routines, and weather create a shared and expansive world in the first two suites of poems in Airs & Voices.

The third suite abruptly reveals this everyday experience, what Walt Whitman called "the main thing," to be the world of peace as all attention and listening fall toward the vortex of 9/11. Compelling claims of the voices circling that maelstrom blot out voices of private life. Resumption of the personal is colored with reflections on responsibility, futility, desire, memory, and comfort through particulars of home and of dreams. Falling after the brighter suites, this shadow suite changes the lighting of the book. Intermingling light with its shade, the concluding poems of Airs & Voices intensify local darknesses in the book's opening spaces of peace.

See HOME page for quotes about Airs & Voices and for information on ordering the book.

Also, if you click on the blue Airs & Voices title above, you'll see information about spoken word performance possibilities.


MESSAGE

MESSAGE
Price $20.00 hardback, 58 pages


Available from BkMk Press -- click on the Quick Link in the sidebar, above on this page, or call (816) 235-2558 or fax to them (816) 235-2611, or e-mail bkmk@umkc.edu.

Also available from Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Call the Grolier at (617) 547-4648 or fax to them (617)547-4230, or e-mail grolierpoetry@verizon.net.


Includes "Midwest" -- as broadcast on The Writer's Almanac

and "Eurydice" -- selected for a Poet Lore
narrative-poetry prize by Albert Goldbarth who said:
Paula Bonnell's "Eurydice" series changes faces, hats, masks, direction, and tone any number of times as it powers itself along, but an overriding sleekness and energy still make of its segments one very effective whole. Small fine-tunings of language and great clunky chunks of brio work hand-in-hand, from first line to last, to make this a voice we care about.


    In the Washington Review, Nan Fry said of "Eurydice":

Bonnell reclaims a tale . . by re-telling it [and] gives us a contemporary version of Eurydice's story in language that is tough, colloquial, and responsive to sound and rhythm . . . . [The sequence is] both effective and provocative. The ending is surprisingly quiet and affirmative, yet just disturbing enough.



"Witty, whimsical, rebellious," is how poet and artist Celia Gilbert characterized Message, saying, "in pain but toughing it out, Bonnell never lets the reader rest any more than she spares herself."



Novelist and poet Marnie Mueller, author of Green Fires and The Climate of the Country, says of this first collection:

I loved these poems -- their mixture of sexuality, wry humor, transcendent soars, and workaday blues. The voice is so fresh! Paula Bonnell understands the connection between desire and the making of art, office politics and existential despair, the landscape of America and the loss of place. On its surface, the poetry of Message is exquisitely sensual, exuberant, and limpid, while beneath the lines one recognizes the thrum of sadness and deprivation rarely spoken of, even to oneself.

Abracadabra
Click on the blue Abracadabra above to find three of its poems.

Selected Works

chapbooks
In a handsome perfect-bound format, tales retold is poems giving new takes on stories from myth, fables, folk & fairy tales, even 20th-century news. Principal and minor characters offer their perspectives on what's happening.

"The life of the mind begins here."

-- Megan Marshall

author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life and The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism

"The intelligent child [Bonnell] conjures up has a mind as supple and lively as these ecstatic, wry poems."

-- Miriam Levine

author of The Dark Opens and Devotion, a memoir

"The words a story in poems on the title page of Paula Bonnell's Before the Alphabet made me rejoice for narrative in contemporary poetry. Like all stories, these poems reveal a deeper story beneath the surface. I value this work greatly."

-- Nick Samaras

author of Hands of the Saddlemaker and American Psalm, World Psalm

poetry books
The world as peaceable kingdom is interrupted by wars and rumors of wars.
Lyric and narrative poems, including "Eurydice," a re-telling of the myth
poetry collection manuscript
This as-yet unpublished collection was a finalist in the National Poetry Series. "Plain Speech" and "Scenic Postcard" -- both reachable through the Quick Links below -- are from Abracadabra.

Quick Links - to PB poems on the web & how to buy Before the Alphabet

MESSAGE