Friday, June 23, 2023

Flare, Corona by Jeannine Hall Gailey - Review

I feel like I read quite a bit of poetry, and I'm always amazed by how much a new collection touches me. This is a wonderful collection. In her poems, Gailey shares her personal journey, touches on current events and nature (our dying planet). I loved the "Self-Portrait As..." poems. As a fan of speculative fiction, I appreciated the elements of science fiction, fantasy and even horror. I really enjoyed the nod to witches in "Grimoire."

I felt "I Can't Stop" in my soul. "I can't stop thinking of the Doomsday Clock, how close we are to spinning into the black hole at the center of the galaxy." Does she know me?

Oh my goodness, "A Story for After a Pandemic" is one of the most beautiful poems I've ever read. Maybe it's because the pandemic affected me (everyone) so profoundly. I'm just not the same person I was before the pandemic. A little more frightened, a lot less social. "After the pandemic, we will rejoin at the river's edge, at the waterfalls and seasides, like animals. Praise the ocean, the sky, the stars: what doesn't protect us, what remains, what holds us together." 

As I said, a wonderful collection of poems. Very highly recommended!

About Flare, Corona:
Against a constellation of solar weather events and evolving pandemic, Jeannine Hall Gailey’sFlare, Corona paints a self-portrait of the layered ways that we prevail and persevere through illness and natural disaster.

Gailey deftly juxtaposes odd solar and weather events with the medical disasters occurring inside her own brain and body— we follow her through a false-alarm terminal cancer diagnosis, a real diagnosis of MS, and finally the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The solar flare and corona of an eclipse becomes the neural lesions in her own personal “flare,” which she probes with both honesty and humor. While the collection features harbingers of calamity, visitations of wolves, blood moons, apocalypses, and plagues, at the center of it all are the poet’s attempts to navigate a fraught medical system, dealing with a series of challenging medical revelations, some of which are mirages and others that are all too real.

In Flare, Corona, Jeannine Hall Gailey is incandescent and tender-hearted, gracefully insistent on teaching us all of the ways that we can live, all of the ways in which we can refuse to do anything but to brilliantly and stubbornly survive.

About the Poet:

Jeannine Hall Gailey is a writer with MS who served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist's Daughter, Field Guide to the End of the World, the winner of the Moon City Press Book Award and the SFPA's Elgin Award, and upcoming in 2023, Flare, Corona from BOA Editions. She also wrote a non-fiction book called PR for Poets to help poets trying to promote their books. Her poems have been featured on NPR's The Writer's Almanac and on Verse Daily; two were included in 2007's The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. She was awarded a 2007 and 2011 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize for Poetry and a 2007 Washington State Artist Trust GAP grant. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Ploughshares.

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  1. This collection absolutely floored me. It is stunning.

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