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Regina O’Melveny

Sheila-Na-Gig Editions Volume 3:



The Shape of Emptiness

by Regina O’Melveny

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REGINA O’MELVENY is a writer and assemblage artist whose award-winning poetry and prose can be found in various literary magazines including The Bellingham Review, rattapallax, Barrow Street, and The Sun. Her long poem, Fireflies, the Conflux Press Poetry Award winner, was issued as an artist’s book designed by Tania Baban. She has published three chapbooks, New and A Secret from Conflux Press, and most recently, other gods, an award-winning collection from the Munster International Poetry Centre in Ireland. Her full-length manuscript, Blue Wolves, won the Bright Hill Press poetry book award. Little, Brown and Company published her novel, The Book of Madness and Cures, listed as one of six best historical novels of the year 2012 by NPR. She has taught writing at Marymount College, the Palos Verdes Art Center and the South Coast Botanic Gardens. Regina lives with her husband in the fragrant sage-scrub hills of   Rancho Palos Verdes, California.


The lyric poems that compose the three parts of The Shape of Emptiness, while each distinct, work in concert like the near invisible lines of an orb-weaver who tacks her continuous silk to the spokes of a web, beginning at the center, spiraling ever outward and then returning to center again.  At the outset the poems explore the poet’s core relationship with her father and his haunting absence. Then they touch upon the tragedy of suicide and her mother’s troubled mind and heart.  A hunger for connection runs through all the poems informed by the meditations and urgencies of the soul. In the last section of the book the poems draw upon the experiences that bind the poet to her husband, daughter and animal companions, in ways that open toward the greater fabric of nature of which we are all a part. Throughout the book, the delicate yet resilient strands between nature and human concerns are tested, explored, mourned where they have been torn, and celebrated where they hold, as revelatory and healing.


The language of these poems creeps so close to the natural world it gets entangled in it and soon we are also submerged in harsh truth and ultimate beauty. Here, in The Shape of Emptiness, life crackles and death comes alive. This book is true medicine. Drink deeply. Take it in. Yes. – Deena Metzger, author of the novels A Rain of  Night Birds, La Negra y Blanca, and Feral; and Ruin and Beauty: New and Selected Poems

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