poetry collections...


February 24, 2010

Steel Toe Books Flies High with My Father’s Kites

Bowling Green, KY—Steel Toe Books is thrilled to announce the launch of our latest title, My Father’s Kites, by Allison Joseph of Carbondale, Illinois. This marks Joseph’s sixth full-length publication, and we believe that My Father’s Kites will welcome as much critical acclaim as her previous titles – if not more.


My Father’s Kites was written in memory of Joseph’s late father, Everest Michael Joseph. In her self-revelatory poems, Joseph carefully unwinds her tumultuous and thorny relationship with her father, meanwhile navigating her bereavement after his death. Joseph’s eclectic mix of elegy, sonnets, villanelles and rondeaus are intellectually stimulating and emotionally stirring. Poet Marilyn Taylor states in a jacket blurb, “ I cannot think of another contemporary poet who has done a finer job of combining form and content, to dazzling effect.”


After reading fifty-six manuscripts submitted during our January 2009 open reading period, we couldn’t get My Father’s Kites out of our heads. We seemed to be addicted to Joseph’s illustrious lines such as these, from “Temperament” which illustrate the complexity of her relationship with her father in a few nimble lines:


I always feared I’d break a vase or plate; I’d drop a bowl

or trip and crack a treasured serving dish.

He’d yell you clumsy stupid kid. I’d clear

the shards of glass. But soon I’d be his girl

again, his favored child, his only wish.


Joseph willingly invited us into her past, and her raw explications kept us engaged. At the core of My Father’s Kites is a series of thirty- four sonnets about Joseph’s father that are addictively sinister and sweet. One of our favorites was “In the Funeral Parlor” in which Joseph describes many things: her grief, her father’s life and death, and the subversive bonds of family.


The silent woman at my father’s wake

avoids my gaze, as if she is not here.

There isn’t anything that she should fear—

I won’t approach to share in her heartache,

or tell her that my father’s great mistake

was living with a heart grown so severe

his daughters lost all hope they might endear

themselves to him. So thin, she might just break

under the weight of what we won’t discuss.

No word seems right for her—she’s not his friend,

so sad and plain, she’s no petite mistress.

She’s just another woman he could bend,

manipulate with widower’s distress.

For both our sakes, I’m glad this is the end.


--Rachel Sholar


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