Monday, December 16, 2013
Time for the secret (see last blog if you want to know what it wasn’t) to be told! A couple of months ago my credit card bought a Kirkus Review. This isn’t how it sounds. You have to pay them to review your book without any guarantee whatsobloodyever that they will like your book and give you a good review. You might only eke out a sentence from an otherwise bad review (there’s an article by a Kirkus reviewer, Melissa Faliveno, in the Nov/Dec 2013 issue of Poets & Writers explaining how it all works at Kirkus) and if that is the case you just have to lump it. For a not starving but not flush either author, this was a big gamble. But my cousin many times removed, Evie Robillard, who is an extraordinary poet and was a librarian, told me to go for it because librarians check the Kirkus magazine for likely books to order (okay, I know I’m over-explaining but I’ve never made a list before, well, cast lists when I danced but that's another blog post) and so I plunked down the money and asked them to review my poetry collection, “One Day Tells its Tale to Another.” And they did and the when I read the review I felt astounding relief. But the secret that I’ve known for a few giddy weeks and couldn’t tell you is that my book was “"Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2013" !!! They picked 100 books for this list out of 3,000 “Indies” submitted to them to review. Mine! Poetry! Here’s the review:
“Like a well-wrought memoir, this medley of free- and fixed-verse poems combines vivid personal narrative with probing self-reflection.
“So, I did the thing / I would never do,” confesses a young dancer upon landing an art-smothering, body-pulverizing contract job in “Paid to Dance,” one of many seemingly autobiographical poems in Augustine’s debut collection. One can easily imagine the same confession from the older narrator sleeping with her friend’s husband in “Wine and Cheese Villanelle” or the jaded lover of “Sestina” who “learned to play double, just like him.” Compromise and disillusionment are frequent themes here, but so are resilience and learning, although the narrators are often too busy navigating their lives to recognize their growing wisdom. Augustine often layers the perspectives of the narrator, author and reader to bolster the poems’ realism and emotional sincerity, and it’s a technique she hones to near-perfection. On rare occasions, the poet usurps the narrator and lapses into bathos: “As we sit at this café table / in Montmartre, sheltered / from the downpour, I see our future. / I will write it down on torn paper, / using a sapphire pen,” seemingly taking seriously Billy Collins’ satirical advice in his poem “The Student” that poets should, “[w]hen at a loss for an ending, / have some brown hens standing in the rain.” On the whole, however, Augustine demonstrates much greater control and precision as she works through multiple iterations of love and loss, employing to great effect forms as varied as the prose poem, the concrete poem, the villanelle, the sestina, the sonnet and the ballad. She reimagines fairy tales, evokes foreign lands through bodily sensation, valorizes women’s perseverance, and revels in the rollicking pleasures of sex, even when they come with risk. As her narrators age, she tightens the circle, mourning and celebrating with equal intensity. One narrator contemplates the “Three Things That Did Not Happen”: “I almost saw Nessie,” “I almost won the jackpot” and “I almost had a child. / She was there in my womb / until chromosomes killed her. / My God, that would have been something.” Among the losses, though, it “appears gone for good are dramas and bothers, / threats and therapists, drunk, needy lovers. / And...lovely, lovely, lovely is my cat’s furry belly.”
Poetry that often transcends its own bounds, spilling over into readers’ lives and forcing them to confront their own narratives.”
Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media LLC, 6411 Burleson Rd., Austin, TX 78744 firstname.lastname@example.org
And here’s the link to the Kirkus newsletter—my book is 4th in the first row, because my last name begins with “A.” I’m really full of myself today, but I can’t take special credit for that. Right, the link: Kirkus Review