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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review: 13 ways of happily

13 ways of happily, by Emily Carr. Parlor Press, Anderson, South Carolina, 2011. Review by Debrah Lechner. Poetry.

Myth panting gravity cell leaf & bud bewildered adjacency unchristened unclarified wax flowers wound wings butterflies tremolo cobweb chickweed venetian blinds spandex fever sobbing frog fiberglass cows lunatic logic whirligig curtain & cloud green mountains melt seed drop of water elderly drunk human hands grief & surprise plankton America begins here cannas mitrochondria nothing nothing nothing− soaring dandelion hero’s dream delirious & shredded

I’ve gathered the words above more or less at random from “Book 1: The Journal of Elastic Perception”. This is the first section of Emily Carr’s new book of poetry 13 ways of happily, and I hope it illustrates why reviewers Cole Swenson and Cynthia Hogue invoked words like “kaleidoscopic” and “ecstasy” respectively to describe her work. There are any number of themes that can be found in her work, but what is delicious for the reader is the sensory impact of her poetry in her ambition to encompass a world in words.

In both “Book 1” and “Book 2, An Alphabet of Gluing from Misshapen Wings,” the carefully meted out number of words on each page enhances this transcendent effect, and also captures an elusive characteristic of life−that each moment is another beginning.

In “Book 2” there is increased contemplation of the eternal in the moment, and I enjoyed the wry portrayal of the spiritual manifested in the material.

From “Draft 4, The Long Fall to Dirt Heaven” in “Book 2” of 13 ways of happily:


in the heaven of June, a naked angel scratches
a misquito bite checks her

watch at wit’s end the limp guillotined gladioli are
radiant & lonely, singing in disbelief−

13 ways of happily is the winner of the New Measure Poetry Prize. Emily Carr’s first book,
Directions for Flying, was the winner of the 2009 Furniture Press Poetry Prize.

Read more of Carr’s poetry in the online content of Hayden’s Ferry Review issue 46 here. Treat yourself to the luscious poetry of 13 ways of happily at any bookseller or by purchasing it here at

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