Ceremonial

Carly Joy Miller. Orison, $16 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-0-9964397-7-0
In her luscious debut, Miller conjures new rituals while detailing a process of unfolding womanhood—an eternal state of attempting to make sense of life’s chaos. Throughout, she conjures powerful images of refusal to be confined by societal expectations of womanhood. On display is an inner life marked by the active embrace of both victories and defeats garnered in the face of defiance of others’ demands. Miller depicts such struggles from the start, with the opening poem, “Dayshift as Conduit,” setting an ominous tone. Here, the speaker declares that “My mother told me I live/ like a beast and like a beast// I will die.” But Miller reveals that living like a beast may be a small price to pay for autonomy. “I’ve always been the girl in the wrong/ clothes for spring, yet I understand my body is a gift,” she writes. “I’ve not withered away. When my mother slaps/ my thighs to circulate the water in the blood,/ the bruises still purple.” The poet’s sharp language also shines in symbolism rooted in nature: “You swore there was gold/ at the bottom of the lake,// swore the lake wanted you to wear its mossy skirt.” In the process of discovering the self, Miller cuts a new path through an old wood. (May)
Reviewed on: 10/01/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
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