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LAUREN BACALL SHARES A LIMOUSINE celebrates women--famous, infamous, the fictional and the footnote, from Frida Kahlo to a Civil War soldier to the mother of Louis Braille to Mata Hari to Dorothy of Oz to Janis Joplin, and many more--in this irresistible and overflowing fountain of witty, sparkling and sensitive poems in voices. Poet Susan J. Erickson seemingly absorbed all the fascinating biographies and telling details of these women's lives, then spilled out poems that brim with memorable metaphor and insight. I'm reminded how profoundly and efficiently a poem can express human experience, and that women's experiences, never doubt it, are boundless.
--Kathleen Flenniken, author of PLUME
In LAUREN BACALL SHARES A LIMOUSINE, Susan J. Erickson reinvigorates the tradition of the dramatic monologue. "I sit still," reflects Lucy, the wife of John James Audubon, during a silhouette cutting. "The scissors know only / the shape of what is, / not what will be." Explaining her love for F. Scott Fitzgerald, his wife Zelda recalls, "Because he moved with the grace of a fencer / dueling with his shadow." But the women of these pages are more than wives; they are pilots and prisoners of war, makers and musicians, actors and artists. One of several standout ekphrastic sequences invokes Georgia O'Keeffe's sense of the Southwest landscape: "a place that picks clean / the gristle and fat of regret." Equally inventive is the collection's play with occupying outside texts--Zelda's "recipe" for bacon and eggs, Marilyn Monroe's self-portrait as the menu items at Schrafft's--and received forms such as the abcedarian and the pantoum. Erickson has a gift for arresting openings, as when "Emily Dickinson Introduces Her Blog" "Propelled by chance's cosmic pull / This Thing called Internet / Allows me from my garret space / To publish this gazette." Clever, haunting, voluptuous, and nervy in turn, these poems challenge our understanding of womanhood across two continents and three centuries.
--Sandra Beasley, author of I WAS THE JUKEBOX and COUNT THE WAVES
In Susan J. Erickson's highly-crafted collection of poems, LAUREN BACALL SHARES A LIMOUSINE, we return to the women who came before us. From the well-known Frida Kahlo and Marilyn Monroe to the lesser-known Monique Braille and Lucy Audubon, these poems offer surprise, delight, and poignancy. Erickson's sharp sense of play and imagination is her signature on these poems--the Venus de Milo dresses for a Halloween party, the Little Mermaid joins the Aquatic Arts Academy. The reader is rewarded with every turn of the page as the lives (both real and imagined) are spoken, explored, and expanded. Here, women stretch in the spaces "of the calm and chaos of sunrise and sunset, / the shimmer of amber, / the roar from the lion's mouth." Smart and accessible, these poems satisfy our desire for stories, and Erickson doesn't disappoint. Recommended for every bookshelf.
--Kelli Russell Agodon, Author of HOURGLASS MUSEUM & THE DAILY POET