Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Reading for The Doll Collection

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Last week a group of poets whose poems appear in The Doll Collection held a reading at the Mystery to Me Book Store in Madison, Wisconsin. Andrea Potos, Susan Elbe, Robin Smith Chapman, Alison Townsend, and Karla Huston arranged the reading and the book store supplied the books. Each poet read her own poem along with two others from the book. From all reports, it was a wonderful reading. Although I couldn't be there due to distance, one audience member, Martha Jackson Kaplan, took some photos. It was a pleasure for me to see those poets reading from and holding The Doll Collection, the first book from my new press, Terrapin Books.

Here are some photos to give you a hint of the evening.

Robin Smith Chapman waiting to read

Robin Smith Chapman reading "Puppet World"

Susan Elbe reading "Colleen Moore's Doll House"

Karla Huston waiting to read

Karla Huston reading PliƩ

Andrea Potos reading "Every Body She Carries"

Alison Townsend reading "Madame Alexander's Amy"

Here's one of the poems read that night. It's by Cecilia Woloch who wasn't able to be there but the poem was read by Susan Elbe.

Burning the Doll

I am the girl who burned her doll,
who gave her father the doll to burn—
the bride doll I had been given
at six, as a Christmas gift,
by the same great uncle who once introduced me
at my blind second cousin's wedding
to a man who winced, A future Miss
America, I'm sure—while I stood there, sweating
in a prickly flowered dress,
ugly, wanting to cry.

I loved the uncle but I wanted that doll to burn
because I loved my father best
and the doll was a lie.
I hated her white gown stitched with pearls,
her blinking, mocking blue glass eyes
that closed and opened, opened and closed
when I stood her up,
when I laid her down.
Her stiff, hinged body was not like mine,
which was wild and brown,
and there was no groom—

stupid doll,
who smiled and smiled,
even when I flung her to the ground,
even when I struck her, naked, against
the pink walls of my room.
I was not sorry, then,
I would never be sorry—

not even when I was a bride, myself,
and swung down the aisle on my father's arm
toward a marriage that wouldn't last
in a heavy dress that was cut to fit,
a satin dress I didn't want,
but that my mother insisted upon—
Who gives this woman?— wondering, Who takes
the witchy child?

And that day, my father was cleaning the basement;
he'd built a fire in the black can
in the back of our backyard,
and I was seven, I wanted to help,
so I offered him the doll.
I remember he looked at me, once, hard,
asked, Are you sure?
I nodded my head.

Father, this was our deepest confession of love.
I didn't watch the plastic body melt
to soft flesh in the flames—
I watched you move from the house to the fire.
I would have given you anything.

                     —Cecilia Woloch

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