We’re well aware that some of today’s best writing can be found in chapbooks, which often fall under the radar in book press and promotion. In effort to make sure these works get their due, we’ll be doing regular flash-review roundups of recent chapbook releases. Here, we’re spotlighting two recent poetry chapbook releases from writers who undertake journeys of self resolve and resilience from Finishing Line Press, which is based in Georgetown, Kentucky and has won praise and prizes for its promotion of women’s voices in titles since 1998.
Glimmerglass Girl, Holly Lyn Walrath
$14.99, 47 Pages
Released last year, Glimmerglass Girl by Holly Lyn Walrath is a vision of what it means to be a woman. It is at times fantastical and at times heartbreaking, often both within a line. Walrath creates catalogs of objects, and in an near inversion of ekphrasis, it is not the poem that is a vehicle for description, but rather the objects that give life to her vision and experiences. Throughout, quotidian images of produce-laden kitchens, flower-strewn greens, and insides of cars, are juxtaposed images of womanhood in perfection; porcelain dolls and fairy tale princess, showing the reader how to meditate on the small joys of life against moments of anguish. Take this line from “She Learns How to Disappear:” “She memorizes little spaces she could hide in— / the white place between letters on the page / the dashboard radio like a golden dais.” As the title alludes, the chapbook creates an overall menagerie, collected refractions that hold a life within.
“if you open her box / she unfolds at her ankles / and sound
wavers out of her prison / her eyes wander / the mirror
radiates nuclear emissions / blue casts her in a favorable light
/ for her skin is impossible porcelain / filling the sink of her
skin / faking radiation in her cheeks / she imagines the feel of
his hand in hers / the warm, almost damp center / of his palm
like a world / revolving slowly in it / she is held / he watches
her turn / music softly tinkling /and her head tilted just so—
he can hold her hands up like / ballerinas dance / like a kissing
– “Wind-Up Girl”
Forgiveness, Chelsea Bunn
$14.99, 29 Pages
Chelsea Bunn’s Forgiveness opens with a quote from the Gospel of Thomas and continues as an exploration of purpose, and act of prayer as we follow a narrator attempting to reconcile their own battles with disease and loss, as with the opener “Cancer:” “It is wise not to make your home / in the catacombs of worry.” The religious allusions and images run throughout the work. As those of faith also battle the uncertainty between what they desire and what God may will, so too do the poems show the narrator at extremes, with partners, with family, trying to reconcile. Take the poem “Litany,” covering different interactions with several men, with lines broken up into two columns and by white space and forward slashes within lines to create a work that can be read several ways. It’s an act of purging, exorcising. Through these poems, we are entangled in time, with shifting lines pulling us between the internal hopes and the presence of others they answer to, asking, How far can forgiveness extend? Can forgiving ourselves and others go hand in hand?
“she walks the backyard
plucking heads off flowers.
Her father is teaching her
to garden: this is what keeps them
alive—removing atrocities, brittle
iterations of loss.
Something in this angers her—
the hardened petals
of each flower
and she has no choice
but to crumble”