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Sweet Aegis Paperback – June 1, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 76 pages
  • Publisher: Negative Capability Press (June 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 094254482X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0942544824
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,192,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Allen Berry on August 5, 2014
Format: Paperback
In Sweet Aegis, the latest collection of poems by Melissa Dickson, the poet breathes new life into classical mythic characters; turning carved marble into flesh, and inviting them down from their pedestals, to walk among us and give account of their lives to the amazed reader. Dickson challenges us to gaze, unflinching, into the eyes of one of Greek Mythology's most infamous monsters, and find within them, not the horror we have come to know, but a misunderstood creature twice victimized.

Through Dickson's writing, heroes and villains are drawn into the cold, often unflattering, light of modernity. Here the crime of Poseidon against the young maiden in the temple of his sister Athena is tried in the court of poetic discourse. The maiden, victimized by a deity and cursed by the goddess she cried out to for rescue, is at long last allowed her testimony. The brash youth who slew Medusa, thus securing his fame and his place in the pantheon of heroes, is revealed to be more braggart and opportunist than icon. The estranged father, who left his infant daughter in the keeping of the goddess and Medusa's two sisters, present their victim's impact statement to the jury of readers.

Dickson's poems challenge use to look deeper into the life of one of our deepest cultural myths. To gaze upon the monster whose history we have scarce considered, and in doing so, reverse the spell as the reader's stony heart begins to soften toward this much maligned creature. Gazing into the eyes of Dickson's Medusa, we experience not terror, but sympathy for her as victim rather than dread of her as a villain.

Sweet Aegis is a powerful work, casting a modern light on a classic myth. Heroic tale becomes modern allegory as the famous and infamous walk through the contemporary south. Once you have read Sweet Aegis, you will never look at Medusa and her contemporaries the same again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By spork on October 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading Sweet Aegis often seems like experiencing a poetic version of a Kevin Burns documentary about Medusa and her life with quotations and letters from her, her family, and her acquaintances - here taking the form of Dickson's poetry. It is through the author's wickedly insightful and mercilessly humanizing accounts of the various characters' assessments of themselves and each other that the cold accounts of Medusa given by her ancient authors - that simply defined her as Monster - are brought into alignment with real human experience and truth.

In Sweet Aegis, indirectly and disarmingly, Ms.Dickson exposes us to what we and all human kind throughout history have been all to ready and willing to accept - that an accused villain's nature is malice and evil - and is presumed so unquestioned when the villain is described to us as foreign to our kind. The allegations go unquestioned because she is presumed fundamentally different from us and thus cannot be understood. We are told this by her accuser - who is one of us - one of our tribe's exalted authorities. So the accusations are accepted without a skeptical hearing. Her accusers limit her story to only what is necessary to make the use of her that they desire - so often, like here, her very useful killing. If she exists in corporeal reality, her story is censored and reduced to the basest simplicity so as to stereotype, dehumanize, and finally objectify her. If she is purely a construct of the trusted authority's creation - say the stereotype itself - or as with Medusa, a Greek myth, she simply begins as a monster and she is never explained - for understanding can only undermine the moral authority of her killer's - our hero's - actions and her accuser's goals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Malictus on June 29, 2013
Format: Paperback
When we think of Medusa, a number of images inevitably spring to mind: a tangle of snakes, men turned to stone, a head in a bag, tricksters with mirrors, heroes with swords. As iconic as those images are, most of us experienced Medusa as little more than a minor obstacle that our Greek hero Perseus had to overcome on his way to winning Andromeda. "Medusa has no volition," observes poet Melissa Dickson in the notes to her newest collection, Sweet Aegis. "She is, in fact, dead by the time her antics yield much narrative interest or mortal threat." Dickson, like Perseus, is on a quest, but hers is to restore and redefine, rather than rend, as Perseus did so casually, without even looking. In Sweet Aegis, Dickson forces us -- maybe for the first time -- to look. Medusa "represents more than the monster who must be slain," she contends. Medusa is the monster that must be recognized and affirmed - not as an "other," but as something within ourselves. Dickson begins her collection with a sex scene. Her language is bold and provocative: "Who came first was not the issue," she says in the first line, "or what darkness / Fostered that first wind-ripened kiss." The sex act that conceived Medusa was no ordinary human romp but a mountain-flattening, ocean-emptying coupling of gods - "rages unhinged / And rampant" shared "in urgency" by chthonic monsters in a time before men. Monsters spring from the deep one by one, "And last in this list, / an infant girl whose newborn face / Only the setting day rivaled, / her eyes a whispered dominion, / Her hair spun in rubied ringlets." Perhaps not the Medusa birth story we expect, but the one she deserves. Medusa goes on to catalog her own virtues, even going so far as to describe herself as a hero.Read more ›
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