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You Were That White Bird


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About the Author

SHELLEY GIRDNER'S poems have been published in several journals, including most recently Hunger Mountain and Painted Bride Quarterly, as well as The Indiana Review, Mid-American Review, and others. She's been a featured poet in the Aurorean, a finalist for the Slappering Hol chapbook prize, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry. She teaches at the University of New Hampshire.


This is a book of wonders. This is a fearless poet of fine and original vision who is even able to risk admitting that sometimes neither human creativity nor hoped for divine salvation can ameliorate life's worst sorrows. And yet, and yet...these poems say, without saying --that when one is being pushed over the cliff's edge and manages to catch hold of the flimsiest branch, that branch is everything. And furthermore, the strength and grit and grace of these poems suggest the branch is not only strong but flowering. There is nothing in this book but uncompromising honesty and profound love for the difficult yet miraculous world. Read it and more likely than not, by the end, you will feel not only renewed but, in the best ways possible, reinvented.--Mekeel McBride, author Dog Star Delicatessen
"In her poem, "Before there were birds," Shelley Girdner talks back to Robert Frost's sonnet "Never Again would Birds' Song Be the Same." Frost imagines the Biblical Eve "imprinting" the birds in Paradise with her "daylong voice . . . an oversound, / Her tone of meaning but without the words." Girdners' poem subverts Frost's myth, making the bereft and banished Eve prior to the birds (We said, god gave us birds, by having no words / for love or hope, and then there they were-- / nimble and blurred bright enough / we thought we'd lost our sight"). Girdner's Eve discovers (through the mysteries of egg, flight, fallen bone, nest, and fletch) that "there were worlds we could make / other than shelter, other than fire." These "worlds," of course, are poems. An Eve-like figure, post-Lapsarian, who has seen the origins and end of a long and very human love affair, moves through the hibernal, grief-struck, fallen world of this startling debut collection with unadulterated sadness and hope. "Honed down to better weather all the weather"--what's present, what's gone--the speaker learns that we can die, and live, more than once. Mindful of Emily Dickinson's admonition that it might be wrong to "Split the Lark" to "find the Music," Girdner's poems are proof "that partnering will change us / as if to say lie down with me / and leave your mark."--Lisa Russ Spaar, author of Orexia: Poems; winner, 2016 Pushcart Prize

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