Friday, August 7, 2009

Underlife by January O'Neil

January Gill O'Neil
CavanKerry Publishing
2009

Underlife represents that gnawing wilderness of thought and emotion hidden away from the external world. The dynamics of race, family, motherhood, career, sex, and, ultimately, transformation are explored in this debut collection. Vivid and unflinchingly honest, O’Neil’s narratives are portals through which we see our lives as if for the first time. These poems make the ordinary extraordinary.



"The Kerning"

Today I spent the morning
brushing pink crayon
from your teeth. This tells me
you know how to eat words.
You’ve tasted those intangible calories
that fill my cavernous heart.
You’re beginning to understand
how sloppy and brutal the imagination can be.
I put my hands between your pearly teeth
and yank petals of paper from your mouth.
Someday I will teach you how to read
words that are not there,
show you how to breathe without
disturbing the air. Nothing lives
outside of us in this overprinted world.
Decide for yourself. Then let me know
if you can eat a crayon without leaving
a mark.


*Originally appeared in Crab Creek Review

January's debut poetry collection scheduled release is September 2009. Her work has appeared in numerous publications. A Cave Canem Fellow, January regularly participates in writers' groups, poetry festivals and readings. She blogs at Poet Mom and is a columnist for readwritepoem.

January is my peer, my friend, my confidant for our weekly Confession Tuesday. I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do. Support poetry. Buy her collection. Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Tricia at Miss Rumphius Effect.

8 comments:

tanita davis said...

Wow, not only do I love her poem -- the idea of eating words, and "petals of paper" is lovely -- but I love her name as well.

jama said...

"Nothing lives outside of us in this overprinted world."

Thanks for sharing this fabulous poem and introducing us to January! A debut collection is definitely something to celebrate. :) Yay!!

Irene Latham said...

Congrats to January!! love "how sloppy and brutal the imagination can be" Thanks so much for sharing!

evelyn.n.alfred said...

Wow, that poem's pretty awesome. Eating words...oh yeah!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

A beautiful poem and image so richly portrayed! I will look for her book. Thanks for sharing.

January said...

Thanks for all the kind words. This is a great community. I will definitely stop in and say hello more often.

laurasalas said...

Wonderful poem! My fav lines are:

I put my hands between your pearly teeth
and yank petals of paper from your mouth.
Someday I will teach you how to read
words that are not there,

Love the contrast of the sharpness of teeth and yanking and the softness of "petals of paper"

I've put in a Request for Purchase at my local library--I hope they buy this book.

Color Online said...

Hi Laura,

Thanks for asking your library to buy it.

Glad you enjoyed this selection.