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Poetry. Emily O'Neill's extraordinary PELICAN begins with a father's death and spins into a breathless dream- fugue of teeth & loss & apples & oceans. Reaching into the mouth of the PELICAN or Jaws of a whale to discover some kind of posthumous truth ('here's your daughter, PELICAN / come & bleed now, quiet / while I fish in your throat for it') becomes the book's trajectory-'for growing into my anger, / for wearing it like a gown.' Ranging from heart-wrenching poignancy ('The last man who gave me / flowers will never meet the first') to jaw-dropping comprehension ('I'm still stupid as the day / I fumbled my chopsticks into the Udon and it's true / that nothing I've eaten since the spring when we were starved / knives sharpening each other tastes quite rich enough'), O'Neill's debut collection is an irrepressible wave that mixes & throws everything back at our feet, ripped & raw & real. Bruce Covey
Emily O'Neill's poems herald an absence so present that it can only be humanly known as loss... the kind of loss that leads to grief, shown to us with lines as ferocious as 'I dare / the dark to eat me fiercely' and 'If I could, I'd tell the story with silence' and 'bored with stillness, / uncatchable as / a breaking wave.' But this is not the poetry of lack. Through naming and claiming these absences, this brilliant book makes known the possibility for transformation: 'a rabbit crushed // into a bottomless satin hat. / Now, you see it. Now, it's hope.' Jericho Brown