My Father's Kites
Praise for Allison Joseph
"I want poems to take me where I haven't been before. I want them to invite me to leap into some other world. The poems in Allison Joseph's My Father's Kites do just that. The poems here are achingly, tenderly, artfully realized, and they create a world that is both typical and completely unto itself. Here a young woman considers her deceased father's troubled life and her own uneasy relationship with him, and, in almost the exact center of "What the Eye Beholds," the thirty-four poem sonnet sequence at the heart of My Father's Kites, she recognizes that "Words cannot undo what's done." There is regret but also freedom in the recognition that some things cannot be fixed. And somehow Joseph's words also do what had been left undone. These poems say what had been kept unsaid, gather all the resentment and longing, all the irritation and adoration, into a richly nuanced world." -- Jeff Mock
"'Tell me about the poet,' urges Allison Joseph in the very first line of her remarkable new collection -- and it is with insight, honesty and extraordinary technical skill that she accomplishes exactly this. My Father's Kites is a self-revelatory collection of carefully wrought, jewel-like poems that explore the often paradoxical complexities of family relationships. Her strategy is tightly linked to her remarkable expertise as a formalist -- a gift that becomes most evident in 'What the Eye Beholds,' a series of sonnets about her father's flamboyant life, his gradual 'dereliction,' his inevitable early death, and its poignant aftermath. The arc of this sequence, flanked as it is by graceful villanelles and rondeaus. I cannot think of another contemporary poet who has done a finer job of combining form and content, to dazzling effect." -- Marilyn Taylor
Allison Joseph's father used to construct amazing kites when she was a child -- "makeshift diamonds, homemade contraptions" -- that somehow managed to transcend her Bronx neighborhood and sail into the sky. Now, in her brilliant memoir of her father's life, My Father's Kites, she, too, constructs her own kites, soaring sonnets and pantoums and villanelles that capture elusive memories of the troubled but imaginative man who shaped her youth. Superbly executed, part family history and part homage, Allison Joseph's My Father's Kites strings the frail human voices across the forceful lines of her verse to summon her absent father from the dead." -- Maura Stanton
My Father's Kites featured on The Writer's Almanac, March 9, 2010
In "Elegy for the Personal Letter", Allison touched a nerve and this poem was heard around the web.
Reviews praise My Father's Kites:
Rave reviews for My Father's Kites have appeared in the North American Review's Winter 2010 issue, on Harriet, and in Verse Wisconsin. In the NAR review, My Father's Kites is called a "treasure of formal poems" about "the troubled relationship with a distant and sometimes menacing father, 'too dour / to comfort [his dying wife] like no pain killer would,' staying away from her deathbed as he did from his children." After quoting favorably phrases from several poems, the review extols the book as "[a] lovely and profound book about us and all our parents, about secrets that we have kept from them . . ." and praises her bravery.
You can read the Harriet review here:
and the Verse Wisconsin review here:
About the Author
Born in London, England to parents of Caribbean heritage, Allison Joseph lives, writes and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where she directs the MFA Program iin Creative Writing at Southern Illinois University. She also serves as editor and poetry editor of Crab Orchard Review, a national journal of literary works, and director of the Young Writers Workshop, a coed residential creative writing summer workshop for high-school aged writers. She also serves as moderator of the Creative Writing Opportunities List, an online list-serve that distributes calls for submissions and literary contest information to writers free of charge. She has received fellowships and awards from Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Sewanee Writers Conference and the Illinois Arts Council. My Father's Kites is her sixth full-length poetry collection.