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Ceremony for the Choking Ghost (Inglés) Tapa blanda – 14 feb 2010

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Finneyfrock writes poetry with muscular verve and narrative push. The depth and breadth suggested in just a few polished images placed next to each other will make you reconsider what poetry can do. -Paul Constant, editor The Stranger

If you've never enjoyed poetry once in your whole life-if even the word "poetry" makes you want to fall asleep, or die-you should read Karen Finneyfrock's new book of poetry, Ceremony for the Choking Ghost. -Paul Constant, editor The Stranger

...Finneyfrock's poems, then, are Shields's perfect novels: a shelf full of long, elaborate, heartfelt books that have been whittled down to their bare, sharp skeletons. -Paul Constant, editor "The Stranger"

Reseña del editor

After losing her sister to heart failure, Karen Finneyfrock was unable to write poems for three years. Her voice came back, whispering at first and then screaming. "Ceremony for the Choking Ghost" contains the sound of that voice returning, bringing poems about grief and its effect on the body, the body politic, memory, and, of course, poems about love. Half poetry, half exorcism, her book calls to all of our ghosts.

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5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas From a poet's grief: poignancy and empathy 20 de mayo de 2011
Por David D. Horowitz - Publicado en
Formato: Tapa blanda
Karen Finneyfrock's Ceremony for the Choking Ghost provides a profoundly poignant record of the poet's reaction to her sister's death from unexplained heart failure at age thirty-six. Karen's grief and raw vulnerability render her speechless, shellshocked, nearly debilitated. She battles to stay emotionally afloat, succumbing at times, but more often than not emerging more deeply empathetic to others' grief. "How to Recognize a Damaged Girl," for example, so tellingly relates the essential images of her poem's subjects: "Eyeliner" and "mimic shiners" and "acrylic nails and fishnets." And there is the poet's trademark gift for simile and metaphor: "Cigarettes hang off their lips/like bridge jumpers who change their minds."

The poet also reveals her vulnerability in matters of romance. In the hilarious "Miss You," Karen wants to push away a lover who broke with and disappointed her, yet her heart goes "jackhammer" and "carousel" when he whispers he misses her. She seems almost angry at her vulnerability to such a man's charms--yet she expiates her longing through finely sarcastic delineation of the man's truncated acknowledgement, "Miss you." By poem's end, she feels less dependent on his good graces. She will "fold" his nostalgic words and put them "in my purse. I might be hungry later."

Such wit and sarcasm find other expressions here, as one would expect from one of our country's finest performance poets. Indeed, Ceremony begins with the fire and brimstone of "What Lot's Wife Would Have Said (If She Were Not a Pillar of Salt)." The poem excoriates the self-serving sanctimony of religious bigots who equate gays with decadence. Elsewhere in the collection, the poet makes clear she is proud of her friendship with gay people. In "Rebecca and Her Lover Ate Oysters," a lesbian couple finds a pearl in an oyster among those they ordered in a restaurant. Waiters and patrons both celebrate the rare occurrence. The poet, presumably still grieving over her sister's death, pointedly refers to God at poem's end: "Here is the reason, for one more day/to keep vainly believing God loves us." The poet sounds uncertain about God's love yet totally sincere celebrating others' joy in the couple's finding the pearl. This is turn reflects her hope for an inclusive divinity--a God who loves gays as well as straights; blacks as well as whites; women as well as men; poor as well as rich; indeed, every "necessary shining child." Karen demonstrates compassion and hints her compassion might be linked to such a God.

The emotional complexity of poems such as "Rebecca and Her Lover Ate Oysters" suggests Karen Finneyfrock's impressive maturation since the publication of her promising first collection, Welcome to the Butterfly House. Here are warmth and love--without false comfort. Yes, this is a brave voice--not as in feigned bravado but as in quiet acknowledgement of flaw and insecurity and weakness, and the redemption that accrues to those honest about them.
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5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas "like seeing a seagull in a grocery store" 14 de mayo de 2011
Por Elizabeth Austen - Publicado en
Formato: Tapa blanda
Karen Finneyfrock knows the disorientation of grief, "like seeing a seagull in the grocery store," firsthand. Her sister Beth died at age 36, while waiting for a heart transplant. In her poem "The Man on Television," Finneyfrock offers a gesture, a call, a song of understanding toward a man newly bereft, and by extension, toward all of us who know what it means to lose those we love.

Dear pigeon in the drugstore,
at night when grief turns your breath black,
and you breathe it alone among cereal boxes and medication,
resist breaking a wing on the windows. Every lock is made
with a key.

(Hear Karen Finneyfrock reading the poem on KUOW public radio at [...].)

These are poems of the most necessary kind of understanding--one human heart speaking to another about what can barely be contained by words.
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas funny, heartbreaking, beautiful and true 20 de febrero de 2010
Por C. O. Aptowicz - Publicado en
Formato: Tapa blanda
I swear to you: I was holding my breath during my entire first reading of "Ceremony for the Choking Ghost."

As each perfect & honest poem tumbled off the page, I grew so afraid that I would do something wrong -- take the wrong breath, look up the wrong moment, blink once too often -- and ruin this book's perfect run of poetry. Please know the worry was completely unnecessary; from top to tail, poet Karen Finneyfrock is simply unstoppable.

Let me pull just some of the amazing lines from the poems found in the debut collection of poetry:

From the poem "What Lot's Wife Would Have Said (If She Wasn't A Pillar of Salt)": "Do you remember when we met / in Gomorrah? When you were still beardless / and I would oil my hair in the lamp light before seeing / you, when we were young and blushed with youth / like bruised fruit. Did we care then / what our neighbors / did in the dark?"

From "The Rube Goldberg Machine": "Teenagers make out in forgotten places: parking lots past closing time, / city parks after dark. We went to my basement, my parents footsteps / whispering over the ceiling like gossip."

From "The Birthday Party: "The year Beth was in the hospital, / Wayne didn't want Molly to turn three / listening to her mother's heart machine thump / like a goldfish with no bowl, so we took her to the / Baltimore aquarium. I spent the day brightening / my eyes when Molly looked at me." And later from the same poem, "On Molly's third birthday, I prayed for a car accident / on the highway, a gang shooting that missed the chest. / Heart transplants are always a result of tragedy , old / and satisfied hearts won't work."

From "How My Family Grieved": "We sandpapered down to the meaning of necessary things. / Among the condolence cards the jack-potted through / the mail slot daily was this one. / 'I was so sorry to hear about Beth. I was also / surprised to find out that Karen isn't married yet.'"

I could honestly keep going. The book is filled with this sort of stunning gems, lines and images that twirl your around your heart, gently tugging on its strings, waking you up and making your head spin at the same time. Funny, and heartbreaking, and beautiful, and true. The stories they tell are complex & profoundly human: grief over the death of a sister, lust over a ex-lover, confusion over the choices our country & its citizens sometimes make and of course, joy at the simplest & most honest things.

I highly recommend this stunning collection, and am already eagerly awaiting to read what comes next from this fresh and talented poet.
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas "my heart goes carousel and jackhammer" 11 de mayo de 2011
Por The Magpie - Publicado en
Formato: Tapa blanda
Karen Finneyfrock actually got me excited about poetry. I went to see her read because friends told me she was so good live. (Don't take my word for it, just google her and see for yourself: try "the Newer Colossus"). So it was with great joy that I read this book and found her poems still carried their emotional strength when read off the page.

The heavyweights in this book deal with a tragic loss. Every time I read "Her Body Becomes a Hospital", I have to stop to swallow that lump in my throat. Similarly, "The Man on Television", a poem about not knowing how to move on from tragedy, hits me hard, right in the gut.

Thankfully, this poet balances the dark with rays of hope. Her poems of love take us back to beauty. "Rebecca and Her Lover Ate Oysters" is the kind of poem you'll want to memorize and recite as a wedding toast. It describes a moment, so unexpected and perfect, that even strangers at a nearby table smile with astonishment.

This is a gorgeous collection, I can't recommend it enough.
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas Evocative, beautiful human poetry 24 de febrero de 2010
Por Amani - Publicado en
Formato: Tapa blanda Compra verificada
Karen Finneyfrock has a gift for the written word that must be experienced to be believed.
I loved her first book, Welcome To The Butterfly House so much, I anticipated Ceremony for the Choking Ghost excitedly. I was not disappointed.

Karen's gift for illustrating depth of emotion is unparalleled. The feelings evoked by reading her poetry run the gamut from amused to deep grief, sometimes in only the hiccup of a comma.

I grow when I read her poetry. I love Karen Finneyfrock's work. You will, too.

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