Jean Gallagher

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(ISBN 978-0932440-43-3)

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Jean Gallagher's 2005 FIELD Poetry Prize-winning Stubborn, as Mark Jarman wrote, "shows us how it feels for the human and the holy to interact." Now, in Start, she enters the world of classical myth to explore the meanings of motherhood, loss, grief, and renewal. Her brilliant concision and riveting music bring the ancient narrative sharply into the present, transforming it to a vision that feels thrillingly contemporary and personal.

"Jean Gallagher plunges us into the mystery-shrouded chthonic rites of Demeter and Persephone in a stunning postmodern Homeric hymn, stepping into the company of other reinventors of the ancient myths like H.D., Anne Carson, and Louise Gluck. In her haunting, spare, mystical enactments of ancient rites of loss, descent into the earth and underearth, and ecstatic return, she leaves readers like one of the initiates at Eleusis who 'came out of the mystery hall feeling like a stranger to myself.' We're ungrounded by these poems, cast among the mysteries and ecstacies: reading Start, I felt—as Gallagher's Persephone herself says—'the ground I never knew / could open did.'"
Bruce Beasley



Hymns for Birthmothers: Aphrodite

I couldn’t help myself sleeping
with what I knew would go
kablooey. I thought n
was constant but now my mind off
its leash is crowded with the calculus for
what undoes next. The name I chose
for it means unerasable
mark where I touched
down but that will change. 
I just won’t know
to what. My name
will be new then
too     turned to nothing but not.


Hymns for Birthmothers: Leto

I went from rock to rock but each said not
here. I finally sat on some stone
steps leading up to nothing
but a little market where found
and needed and lost were the
one apple. Please take what
I have to give you I said and that’s when
I knew what I wanted
to put down was the arrow in me always

pointing somewhere else.


Hymns for Birthmothers: Semele

I wanted for a change to see
what was true and the world
said if you insist. I knew it
might burn but not how much or
how fast. I didn’t have the chance to
say world, keep this one unfinished
thing safe a little longer. Sew this into
yourself. But the world did anyway.

Copyright c 2012 by Jean Gallagher. May not be reproduced without permission.

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