Ahsahta Press, 2010
Perhaps this poet’s gift to us who read her is not in learning how to heal but in learning how to dwell–the wound being this place of dwelling, the woundedness a form of initiation. Wound is the paradoxical gift, opening one to the same world, the continuing experience of the world, which causes the damage… These are poems of startling intimacy, poems whose courage is not in girding courage together, but in loosening it, opening it, showing how the personal is no refuge, but is instead the very place in which history and self converge into a complicated and complicit consciousness. –Dan Beachy-Quick
Elliptical and allusive, brilliant and disturbing, Susan Tichy’s Gallowglass raises the art of collage that defined her earlier Bone Pagoda to a new level of richness and complexity… It is difficult to think of another poet who uses experimentation to such fine and expansive purpose. An exquisitely challenging book. –Martha Collins
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“Gallowglass” is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic gal-óglac, a foreign soldier or mercenary. The poems track this figure in forms both linguistic and human: in the foreign combatants of Iraq and Afghanistan; in words and phrases misplaced, made “foreign” through collage; and in the life and death of the poet’s husband, a foreign soldier in Vietnam. In forms from ghazal to pastiche the poems of Gallowglass think in images, and ask what—in the constant stream of mediated imagery that now assaults us—such thinking means. Assembled from news-talk, war photographs, and ballads, from the I Ching and the Tao De Ching, from Duchamp’s Readymades and from artifacts looted in Iraq’s museums, from Abu Graibh and from personal memory, Gallowglass is a world in which every juncture can feel like conflict. But its gaps also let in light: the calm of detachment, the possibility of new perception. The transcendence offered is social and communal, not metaphysical, the private embedded in the public. So the story of Gallowglass is not one of grief and recovery, but of a constantly recurring consciousness, allowing grief in, letting it go.
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Forget the question “can poetry be political?” Let’s ask instead, “is elegy possible?” —Read more of this review by Renée Angle
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Susan Tichy’s poems of America in dissolution, wrenching, unremitting, as if they had been uttered by stone-eyed Athena, remind us that nothing that happens can be truly compartmentalized, that we live in an alchemical world and need poetry to explain how nothing is done, finished or forgotten. — Djelloul Marbrook, Gallatea Resurrects (A Poetry Engagement) #20
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Moriah Purdy blogs about Gallowglass, July 2010
Mike Maggio reviews Gallowglass in the Montserrat Review
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Many thanks to Beloit Poetry Journal, Indiana Review, and Runes for honoring poems from Gallowglass with generous awards, and to the editors of Agni, Denver Quarterly, Free Verse, Luna, Practice: New Writing + Art, and 42opus, who published poems from the manuscript.
Poems from Gallowglass: American Ghazals, One Two, The Reflection of Black Is Never Black But Pure Dark Green (here printed as “Implicature”), My Brother’s Name Is Babylon, No Copies Species Are Fooled, A Visit to the Underworld Can Permanently Alter Your Perspective on ‘Restless Existence’, Book Land Night, Stork
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Cover design by Quemadura
Cover art from “The Birds” by Avraham Eilat.