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New takes on familiar stories from myth, legend, folk and fairy tales, even 20th-century news
Peter Schwenger says "In this remarkable collection Bonnell enters sideways, as it were, stories and histories that we thought we knew well. Lucid and lithe, her words tilt us into new regions of possibility."
Elaine Ford says "In tales retold, Paula Bonnell burrows inside familiar tales from myth, legend, and popular culture, reimagining them to reveal insights that often amuse and always surprise. As well as her originality, I admire Bonnell's subtlety. . . . These are poems worth pondering."
These poems offer heroes and villains, bit-part players and protagonists, female and male, human and animal, bystanders, witnesses, and perpetrators each giving their own perspective on what's goes on in stories you'll recognize.
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.
Also, if you click on the blue Airs & Voices title above, you'll see information about spoken word performance possibilities.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Click on the blue Abracadabra above to find three of its poems.