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Cameron Gearen - Some Perfect Year

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Cameron Gearen - Some Perfect Year

ISBN 978-1-84861-484-0. Paperback, 90pp, 9x6ins.
[Download a PDF sampler from this book here.]

Cameron Gearen’s first full-length collection of poetry, Some Perfect Year, opens with a poem entitled Invitation, and it’s one we should heed. “Come with stones and a selectively green car. / I’ve set aside a weekend for crying and sleeping,” the poem begins. Indeed, it would be a treat to spend a weekend or longer with this book. Crying might result as some of the subject matter is heavy, but Gearen leads us to a tentative redemption in the end: her final poem, called 'Aubade', mentions “the morning’s promise,” and foretells a more sanguine future. The book is knit together with epigraphs to those to whom Gearen owes a debt, including Paul Celan, Emily Dickinson, and the British analyst and pediatrician D.W. Winnicott. Within the poems themselves, lines are occasionally borrowed from poets Anne Carson and Robert Lowell; the book’s title is a line from Dickinson. One striking thing about Gearen’s voice is that she musters humor even in the face of undeniable horror, and the humor is a relief and a release. A good example of her arch tone can be found in the opening of her poem, Apology for an Incident after The Sleeping Beauty: “Sweetie, / about that little café table / I almost shoved into your groin / on Amsterdam Avenue;”. The speaker does seem sorry, as the poem unfolds, but also able to laugh at human foibles and drama even as she enacts them. Gearen explores the conventions of widowhood in her Greta series. She also touches on the concepts of sin and redemption in her series of seven prose poems on the “deadly sins.” Other themes include motherhood and daughterhood, alienation caused by living abroad, and sexual abuse. Since Robert Pinsky picked her chapbook, Night, Relative to Day, for publication ten years ago, readers have been eagerly awaiting Gearen’s first full-length collection. With its arresting imagery and its sonic surety, Some Perfect Year does not disappoint. 

"Cameron Gearen is a poet of immense verbal resources, employing a terse, brash, and never less than distinctive style, whether she is writing in nonce forms or received forms, in poems of wit or of self-reckoning--and her approach is devotional and elegiac by turns. At a time when other poets too often use their skills to explore superficial ironies and the easy tour de force, it is refreshing to see a poet who aspires to more durable goals. SOME PERFECT YEAR is a debut collection of considerable distinction."
--David Wojahn
 
"It starts with night and ends with dawn. Many-windowed, many-widowed, Some Perfect Year makes an art of fighting art as a means to keep raw the horrible. As a result, the book is charged with fresh expression, torqued from the poet’s trifold task: to report, to represent, and to recover. 'Have you seen a girl about this high,/Mean rodeo presence?' she asks in 'Self-Portrait.' Or, 'She cut ginger, swaddled and mummified…' ('Greta Makes an Offering') This poetry sticks like its referenced burrs, like the 'leaf caught in her braid,' forcing the reader into a proximity of experience like no other. Innocence ravaged is the overt theme, but the guilt that accrues like rust in the ravaged is the subverted one. Every facet of trauma is explored, and the reader is both riveted and harangued by the continuous revelations of being alive, so powerfully rendered that we confuse them as our own. By the time Gearen offers the indelible 'Aubade,' with the closed mouth that 'haunts dark and contoured and only its owner knows the way/from tooth to tooth and down the supple throat,' we want to run back into the nocturnal beginning—no, wait, we never left it—never want to." —Larissa Szporluk

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