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The Afflicted Girls: Poems Hardcover – April 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press; y First printing edition (April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807129453
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807129456
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,588,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By These Letters on May 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book of poems about the people caught up in the Salem witch trials in the 1690s has an important and innovative technique: it weaves together poetry, historical research, the voices of people from the past, and the voice of the poet in the present doing the research. It would be great to see more poets following Cooley's lead here, and it's a way in which these poems could be significantly influential if they get a wide enough audience. It's a logical extension of New Historicism, the new belle lettre movement, and Cultural Studies. If we're going to acknowledge the subjective and language-based roots of history, then going all the way down that road leads to the kind of poetry Cooley is writing here. It's infinitely more positive, and responsible, then taking that same road into the dead end of apathy or agnosticism about history.
The good thing is that Cooley keeps her history solid. She did your homework, she cites her sources, and she isn't distorting the "facts" to suit her rhetorical ends. These are all things that poets have a bad reputation for when they take on history, even for a moment--see Keats' "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer," when everyone just shrugs off the sloppy use of Cortez in the name of "poetic license." Cooley seems to be undertaking a whole new way of approaching "poetic license," redeeming it and moving it forward in a way that is perfectly in tune with her moment in literary history. Having the poems themselves be so moving and well crafted is icing on the cake.
I read the book through in one sitting, and it let me see the way she strikes a nice balance between recurring images, motifs, etc., and finding something new to say and do in each poem.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a really wonderful collection of poems, carefully and ingeniously utilizing the Salem Witchcraft trials as a metaphor. They are intricate, intelligent, and thoroughly well done. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
Nicole Cooley, The Afflicted Girls (Louisiana State University, 2004)

Nicole Cooley starts here from a popular point in American mythology, the Salem witch trials. When you're tackling something that's been done so many times, you have to take a different tack than others have. Cooley elects to spend much of the book telling the tales from the points of view of some of the more minor characters. Everyone's shown us the Salem witch trials from the points of view of the accusers, the Mathers, etc. But when did you last see the story from the point of view of, for example, Giles Corey, who was pressed to death, or Nathaniel Cary, who broke his wife out of prison and helped her escape? Later on in the volume, Cooley leaves the confines of both Salem and the seventeenth century and draws comparisons between the Salem trials and other incidents in the country's history as well:

"...Heat drums against

their necks. They want to believe a spirit
can lift them out of themselves. They want
to believe they lift each other. Light
as a feather."
("The Afflicted Girls, New Orleans, 1978")

It's solidly-written and it works. Worth checking out if you run across it at the store. *** ½
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