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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Book Review: Tongue by Rachel Contreni Flynn

Tongue by Rachel Contreni Flynn, Red Hen Press, 2010, by Debrah Lechner, Poetry.

Tongue is about family, shared history, home, and the separation from these things that everyone must endure during the course of a lifetime. Flynn writes movingly about her life with her sister in rural America, and her loss of both through time, her sister’s illness, and her pursuit of her own continuing life in a small coastal community. Anyone who has lived in a small town will find the comparison between land-locked farm life and life on an island compelling. Her depiction of landscape is rich and lyrical. What gives this writing the greatest power though, is first her
unflinching examination of her beloved sister:

A scarecrow came to breakfast, sat in my sister’s seat and refused
to eat. It combed its straw hair with shredded hands, fluffed its
limbs and made chit-chat, happy faces, horrid little predictions.

Equally as meaningful is her depiction of herself as “the girl” who must reinvent herself in relationship to the world in order to survive her loss. In the process, she must also reinvent her family: "Then I pulled my father’s face / over my own and walked into the world."

If you have a sister, a father, a grandmother, or have ever suffered the loss of love, you will want to read and share this poetry.

Tongue won the Benjamin Saltman award. Her first book, Ice, Mouth, Song won the Dorset Prize. She received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2007. She was born in Paris in 1969 and raised in a small farming town in Indiana. She got her BA from Indiana University in Bloomington where she majored in journalism and history. She received her MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College in 2001. Her first book, Ice, Mouth, Song, was selected by Stephen Dunn as the 2003 winner of the Dorset Prize. She has recorded her work for the Bloomington/Normal Public Radio station, been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and was featured as The Spoon River Review's Illinois Poet in 2005. She also received an Illinois Arts Council Artists Fellowship. Flynn works at Fortune Brands, Inc., a Fortune 500 consumer products company. She teaches poetry courses and workshops occasionally, and lives in Mundelein, Illinois with her husband, Patrick, and their children, Grace and Noah.

Click here to learn more about Rachel Contreni Flynn, and then get your copy of Tongue for your personal library.

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