Sheila-Na-Gig Editions Volume 9
by Jane Ann Fuller
ISBN: 9781735400242 $17.00
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Jane Ann (Devol) Fuller’s poetry has appeared in Aethlon, Atticus Review, B O D Y, Denver Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, Grist, JMWW, Kamana, Northern Appalachia Review, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Pudding Magazine, Rise Up Review, Shenandoah, Steinbeck Now, Still: the Journal, Sugar House Review, The American Journal of Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, The MacGuffin, The Pikeville Review, and Waccamaw. Fuller’s work appears in the anthologies All We Know of Pleasure:Poetic Erotica by Women, edited by Enid Shomer, Project Hope: The Center for Victims of Torture, edited by Betsy Brown, and Women of Appalachia Project, edited by Kari Gunter-Seymour. Fuller is a recipient of the James Boatwright III Poetry Prize. She co-authored Revenants: A Story of Many Lives, published with a grant from the Ohio Arts Council. She studied English Literature at Ohio University and earned her MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She lives in the Hocking Hills of southeastern Ohio.
About the Book: Fuller’s Half-Life spans the many years it takes to come to terms with the suicide of a husband and its traumatic effect on the children: drug abuse, rape, unflinching self-analysis, survivor’s guilt; the loss here is hardly manageable. The poems look to the self but also outward, to the bird feeder and garden, to the paintings of the masters, to Greek mythology, to the music of a fiddle teacher, to the dangerous beauty of southeastern Ohio’s sandstone cliffs. In the face of death, the poems ask, What do the living know? They know immense grief; how brutal and dark our human natures can be; that healing requires engagement with the physical world.
“Indeed, there is a delicious aliveness to the language in these poems, in spite of the trauma and sadness they face.” — Temple Cone, Editor, Future Cycle Press
“A widow trains her body to hear grace notes. Fatigue. Duration. When solace seems far off, she offers water bending light. Unflinching poems walk readers through bones in a furnace to offer forgiveness. Feel birds sift through you, as you meet her Icarus. Half-life enters family trauma, teaching flight and nesting. Fuller rends hearts then mends them. With exquisite locution, with keen listening, she paints a constellation where we keep our better selves. We recognize her landscape of grief in ourselves.” — Lori Anderson Moseman, Y (The Operating System)
“As readers of Fuller’s Half-Life, we can only marvel at the quest to understand human nature in her unflinching study of art and the natural world. The act of processing tragedy by analysis cannot be mistaken for indifference; in fact, it’s heartbreaking. The narrator has learned that in order to get on with the often dark business of living, one simply must persist. As survivors, we are returned to our own imaginations, and if we are as fortunate as Fuller’s narrator, we find ourselves in the presence of the sublime: We can only imagine what you wanted, what you saw of us on the ground, waving frantically, happy at first you were flying, then swimming out to find you in the brilliant surf. — Deni Naffziger, Desire to Stay, nominated for the Weatherford Prize
“Jane Ann Fuller takes on grief like a bird about to collide with herself on window glass. Because she also sees through to something else. To Icarus: … feathers, you oil them with hope. . . Extraordinary poetry, hard, reflexive truth: And you, in your willingness to surrender / your life, might appreciate my grieving / now that I have paid attention, / now that I know it’s not love you were after, / but order. Something manageable. / Something of another world.” — Paul Nelson, author of Learning to Miss
“Half-Life takes us to the darkest of places by way of Bruegel, whose “Massacre of the Innocents,” was painted over, softening the siege to a pillage: The limbs of speared infants piled, painted over as mashed bushels of fruit… These poems originate in pain, yet they radiate light through their intense music and color. Children grow up in the shadow cast by their father’s absence, his decision to leave. His dead star still shines at the poet through the blackness of space. There is something to be said for what Frost called being acquainted with the night. However harrowing the questions, Fuller asks them with a rare and original grace.” — Hillary Sideris, Animals in English, Poems after Temple Grandin
Jane Ann’s Half-Life
What I want for a reader of a book of mine is a read-through that ends, as Half-Life does, with a sense that the grief-plaited threads of it are woven now into a braid of Hopeful Pluck. This book is compelling; the story it revives comes to life. And though the resurrection is, as we expect, partial, it is resurrection nonetheless. And what has been rearticulated into Existence is a miracle, nothing less. It walks around, after, as a cast of characters as loved as sparrows at a winter feeder. I felt fed, having read this amazing piece in one sitting. The voice is one I trust, and one I want to hear a great deal more from. I’d end with: Way to be, Jane Ann! Way to be, Sheila-Na-Gig!
Thanks for this, Roy!