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After the Witch Hunt (Write Bloody Books) Paperback – April 1, 2012
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I am reminded of this quote when reading "After the Witch Hunt," the debut book of poetry by 23-year-old poet Megan Falley. Falley is so grounded and clear-eyed in her perspectives, so attentive and nuanced in her details, and so sharp and telling her understanding of the world she exists in, that the instinct is to say that she is a poet wise beyond her years. But if there is something that Falley wishes us to know, perhaps it is that -- to paraphrase Gloria Steinem -- this is what 23 looks like, and that we've been lying for so long, who would know?
Falley navigates sometimes beautiful, but often harshly cruel world that meets young women the moment they booted from childhood, when "breasts arrived / as a kind of currency." Falley exposes the confusing messages women receive from the media -- in poems like "To the Women Competing on E! Entertainment's Hit Reality Television Show, 'Bridalplasty'" and "Penelope Pussycat Finally Speaks" a persona piece written from the perspective of the black cat relentless pursued by the cartoon skunk Pepe Le Pew, who "pretended [her] refusal was foreplay." -- as well as their own family and friends -- such as the mother who excuses a bullying boy's behavior, telling the narrator "It probably means he likes you."
Another rich theme that runs through the book is the risks -- both beautiful and grim -- that you face when allow yourself to fall in love. While Falley celebrates love in her work, she also speaks candidly about the dangers she found herself in when she fell into an abusive relationship. "Tell us who did this to you" she writes in the poem "Family", "What shade of dusk he wears, / the floorboards he haunts-- which / borough? We'd like to meet // the one who turned your body into dangling meat."
Falley explores the full spectrum of what it means to be young and woman in 21st century America. Candid, grounded, beautifully written and undeniably real, I highly recommend "After the Witch Hunt" to anyone who wants to know (or be reminded of) what being twenty-three really looks like.
"After the Witch Hunt" guides its readers through a dance of vulnerable honesty, pulling one into a truthful account of life in all of its beauty and all of its downfalls. Falley, however, does not leave one without hope and powerful faith of something bigger. Falley has created a masterpiece in the form of a debut by Write Bloody Publishing, and I look forward to future wonderful works from this talented poet.