Saturday, February 2, 2013

Poet Carolyn Hembree's Skinny (Kore Press) dazzles, sparks, creates its own undertow and pulls us down, in, under the tides of memory and love, of lost things, old selves, the collision of what was and what is. A vivid revision of the Southern Gothic in fractured, fragmented narrative: we follow Skinny as she makes, takes, loses her way and finds it. Or not. "My whole body's a hand inside the hole of some clock reaching--"

Her language pulls itself apart and reknits in a wild force, both compassionate and brutal. Her lines lilt and tilt, break hard like waves impossible to ride, the tide on which Skinny and her kin move, Hembree riffing on rhythms, rhymes, sounds, repetition: songs to carry Skinny through her own fits, rowing her way through dreams of fame, Mamie's decline, the Mother's vanity and distain -- "so you can't tell / the skin beneath from what's been laid atop" -- and the counsels of First Cousin and Bird. "Not your time yet, Skinny." Maybe. Maybe not. But it is certainly Carolyn Hembree's time! Skinny is an astonishing debut, fire's heat and cool water's sudden quench. Get. This. Book!

Carolyn Hembree earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University and is an assistant professor at the University of New Orleans. Her poetry has received three Pushcart Prize nominations, a PEN Writers Grant, a Southern Arts Federation Grant, and a Louisiana Division of the Arts Fellowship Award in Literature. Her second manuscript, Rigging a Chevy into a Time Machine & Other Ways to Escape a Plague, was a finalist for Tupelo Press' 2012 First/Second Book Award and for Switchback's 2012 Gatewood Prize. You can read more about the fabulous Carolyn Hembree here.

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