Award winning poet, author of many collections, and director of the Southern Illinois University MFA Program in Creative Writing, Allison Joseph, set to visit The University of Scranton on April 27, 2016 in the DeNaples Center room 405 at 8pm. Joseph will give a free public reading of her latest work. A “Shout Out” was given to Allison Joseph by Harriet the Blog: The Poetry Foundation.
BY RIGOBERTO GONZÁLEZ
Published by Steel Toe Books, My Father’s Kites is Allison Joseph’s
seventh collection. The title and haunting image on the cover telegraph the rite of passage (the death of a parent) that informs these poems, but readers will be surprised by the honest and complex portrait of a man now deceased that has inspired this book-length elegy: “If you could read these words, I’m sure you’d damn/ my college education, or the white man/ I never even told you that I wed./ I write about your life because I can.”
The emotional center of this book is the thirty-four sonnets in Part Two: “what the eye beholds.” Alternating between Elizabethan and Petrarchan sonnet rhyme schemes, the sequence follows the speaker’s stages of grief, from the hour she receives the devastating news (“I couldn’t push away what I’d just heard.”), to the moment of bittersweet acceptance: “My father isn’t coming up the stairs/ to yell my name or tease that I’m adored./ Some other man now wears the clothes he wore.”
But in the process of mourning/ healing comes the discovery of a complicated man’s humanity. This allows the speaker to shift away from the self, her sadness, regrets and rage, and to open up an avenue for her
father to redeem himself as a man independent of his conflicted role as a father: “When friends would ask what does your father do?/ I’d hesitate, not sure what I could say./ Now that he’s gone, I find his resume–/ a typed-up list of all that he’d pursued,/ distinctive men he’d struggled to become.”
To read more visit: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2010/04/shout-out-to-allison-joseph/