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Grace Cavalieri is the author of several books, chapbooks of poetry; and 26 staged plays. She's written texts for two produced operas. She founded "The Poet and the Poem" on public radio, and now produces the series from the Library of Congress, in its 36th year on-air. Grace's community work on radio holds the CPB Silver Medal. Her book Anna Nicole:Poems (Goss 183:: Casa Menendez) holds The 2009 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence. Her 2004 book What I Would Do For Love: Poems in the Voice of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) won a Paterson Poetry Prize. This book has been trans;ated into Italian by poet Sabine Pascarelli, "Cosa Farei per Amore." (2013, Bunny and Crocodile Press.) Grace's book "Water on the Sun" won the Bordighera Poetry Award in 2006. It is in Italian and English within one volume. Her play based on this book, "Hyena in Petticoats," received its premiere reading at NYC Public Library, 2007. Her play "Quilting the Sun" was presented at the Smithsonian in 2005, and received its world premiere production, 2007, Centre Stage, S.C. It received a key to the city of Greensville for the play's depiction of ex-slave quiltmaker Harriet Powers. Cavalieri's last collection of poems, Water on the Sun (2006) won the Bordighera Poetry Award and was listed on Pen Center's Best Books of 2006 List. Grace is a poetry columnist for MiPOradio and has a monthly poetry feature as book reviewer in Washington Independent Review of Books. "The Poet's Cookbook; Recipes from Tuscany" 2009,is from Bordighera Press. "The Poet's Cookbook: Recipes from Germany" was published in 2010(Goethe-Institut.) "Millie's Sunshine Tiki Villas' is a book lengh novella in verse (2011.) A new chapbook, "Gotta Go Now" was issued 2012(Casa Menendez.) Grace holds the inaugural Columbia Award for service to poetry, the National Working Women Commission's Award,The Pen-Fiction Award, the DC Poet Laureate Award for Poetry,plus others.
At the beginning of the book, these words: "These poems are fantasy." I had to keep reminding myself of that when reading Grace Cavalieri's Anna Nicole because I found myself believing every word and forgetting that this is all imagination -- that is how real these poems are. It is as if I am reading a memoir written in poem form.
In Anna Nicole, Anna is not two-dimensional. She is alive and breathing again. Cavalieri gets into Anna Nicole's head like how an actor prepares for a role and she pulls it off. I can hear Anna Nicole's voice while I am reading these poems. I can see her in the scenes and situations in which Cavalieri has placed her. And I keep reminding myself over and over again -- these poems are fantasy. But it seems as if Grace Cavalieri followed Anna Nicole around and studied her.
"Once she heard on TV that if a man rapes you, he steals your soul... That's why she always gave in to men, so she wouldn't have to be raped, so she could save her soul." -- from Negative Capability I had to ask myself, did Anna Nicole mention this in a magazine or television interview? Or is this all in Cavalieri's imagination? And If so, what an imagination she has. Even though this is fantasy, Cavalieri gives the reader authentic Anna Nicole. She shows the reader an Anna Nicole confused about her role in life (in real life Anna Nicole often seemed confused). In Cavalier's Anna Nicole, Anna Nicole seems to be confused by this: should she be the religious-do-right-by-God woman or be the Hollywood sex symbol? She tries to convince herself that Hollywood is the way to go and others try to convince her that Hollywood is the way to go:
"Trusting a stranger because he said The Good Lord can't see what happens in Hollywood.Read more ›
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It astonishes me how Grave Cavalieri's poetry is always new, alive, surprising. Last book, she entered the spirit of 18th-century feminist Mary Wollstencraft--and imagined her inner life, in What I Did For Love; before that, a tragi-comdy of manners at a nursing home in Pinecrest Rest Haven, and now Anna Nicole, who, for most of us was just a punchline, a body without a soul-comes to us with a rich inner life, revealing her dignity and indignities, her hopes and dreams --all imagined by the poet, but completely, inuitively true. Add to this the freshness of Grace Cavalieri's words--it's a great read, for people who know they like poety and people who think they don't.
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