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SEED WHEEL
APRICOTS OF DONBAS
Masquerade
ECCENTRIC DAYS OF HOPE AND SORROW
Masquerade  
|
  Carolyne Wright

ISBN 978-1-7364323-3-4     $21  /  $27 (Canada)     5.5 x 8.5"       

92 pp      
PUB DATE: October 2021       Book Release Featured Poetry





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Masquerade is a jazz-inflected, lyric-narrative sequence of poems, a “memoir in poetry” set principally in pre-Katrina New Orleans and in Seattle, involving an interracial couple, artists and writers. Moved by mutual fascination, shared ideals and aspirations, and the passion they discover in each other, the two are challenged to find a place together in the cultures of both races and families, amidst personal and political dislocations as well as questions of trust, against the backdrop of America’s racism and painful social history. The 20th century’s global problem, the color line, as W.E.B. du Bois declared it, is enacted here in microcosm between these lovers and fellow artists, who must face their own fears and unresolved conflicts in each other. Similar stories have been told from the male protagonist’s point of view; Masquerade is unique in foregrounding the female perspective.

About the Author

Carolyne Wright

Carolyne Wright’s latest book is This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems (Lost Horse Press, 2017), whose title poem won a Pushcart Prize and also appeared in The Best American Poetry 2009. Her ground-breaking anthology, Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace (Lost Horse, 2015), received ten Pushcart Prize nominations. Carolyne has five earlier books of poetry, a volume of essays, and five award-winning volumes in translation from Spanish and Bengali. A Contributing Editor for the Pushcart Prizes, she teaches for Seattle’s Richard Hugo House and for conferences and festivals worldwide. Carolyne has held Fulbright and other fellowships to Chile, India (Kolkata), and Bangladesh; and she returned to Brazil in 2018 on an Instituto Sacatar artists residency in Bahia. She has also received NEA and 4Culture grants, and a 2020-2021 Fulbright Scholar Award will take her back to Bahia after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides in Brazil.

Awards

Reviews

  Masquerade is a "memoir in poetry," a love story in verse, about an interracial couple in racist America. In public, each has to wear a mask and signal each other. In private, when they are able take off their masks, pain and joy emerge. The couple's fate is not entirely their own, as the pressures of society are also at play. Carolyne Wright uses poetic form—acrostic, round, sestina, triolet—as well as free verse to tell this personal history with grace, wit, and poignancy.

—Denise Duhamel

  Carolyne Wright's poetic memoir Masquerade is a love story in, and about, New Orleans. This city is a tropical place, it's as if you are no longer in the United States: the humidity; the foliage, green and blooming; the exotic smells of poor people's cuisine that are now elevated and part of the enriched culture that walks these streets. It is also a place that has been tentatively accepting of highly charged romantic relationships of people of different races, and this is where Carolyne Wright's brave and beautiful poems locate the reader. I love the tension in this story, whose dramatic arc holds through from first poem to last.

—Gary Copeland Lilley

  Carolyne Wright's ambitious new collection, Masquerade, recounts the arc of a decades-ago love affair. In the course of the narrative, the poet considers how we return to the wonder and force of feelings, how we try to tame sorrow and regret with words, how words are required to approach the body's understanding. There are poems here of undeniable formal mastery, and there's no escaping a kind of almost courageous will to transcend loss and look accountability in the face. While it is an account itself, it feels roomier than that, with a deep bow to the art on every page, to the need to speak of our once-secret memories, and to recognize the difference between what should have been and what was. It is also a collection about lyric poetry's role in giving a figure to loss and waste, while embodying its own defense: of beauty, of rapture, of decency and fairness, of generosity, and of love's future. It is a stunning achievement for a poet at the pinnacle of her powers.

—David Rigsbee

 

Triolets on a Dune Shack

". . . snuggled in between two small glassy dunes, facing the ocean.”

—Lester Walker, The Tiny Book of Tiny Houses

1.
We make love only once in the dune shack.
Our reflections stroke each other in the mirrors,
The pot-bellied stove by the bunk bed glowing black.
We make love only once in the dune shack.
Atlantic winds rattle the French doors,
Sand drifts against us on the bolsters.
We make love only once in the dune shack.
Our reflections stroke each other in the mirrors.

2.
Let's say: we never made love in the dune shack—
We kissed and walked away, dunes glassy around us.
We gazed out to sea, we never looked back.
We tell ourselves: we never made love in the dune shack.
We stopped short, where the weathered driftwood found us,
And turned away in the lee of the dune grass.
We never made love, we say, in the dune shack.
We kissed and walked away, the dunes glassy around us.

—Carolyne Wright, 2021