- Paperback: 94 pages
- Publisher: A-Minor Press (March 11, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0692507426
- ISBN-13: 978-0692507421
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,606,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ghosty Boo Paperback – March 11, 2016
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About the Author
Kate Litterer received her MFA in poetry from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Program for Poets and Writers. Her poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from Coconut, The Destroyer, Dusie, Finery, Forklift, Ohio, h_ngm_n, Ilk, inter|rupture, Jellyfish, La Vague, Mistress, NonBinary Review, Phantom Limb, Route Nine Literary Journal, Sixth Finch, Spoke Too Soon, Quaint, the anthology Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poems for the Next Generation, and the anthology Hysteria. She is pursuing a PhD in Composition and Rhetoric at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she focuses on queer and feminist historiography, butch/femme experience, and archival research. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her two maine coon cats. Her website is katelitterer.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
This poet is frank and open about her traumatic past—an abusive, neglectful childhood, in part—and she is likewise frank about the PTSD she experiences as an adult. But she is just as forthcoming about the limits of memory and truth, asking in one of the long string of untitled poems in the book, “What am I making up?” Litterer, a doctoral student in rhetoric, has a sophisticated understanding of narration, and she blends her truthful accounting with fiction because she understands that she owns her own history and she controls the telling.
It is a control that seems to have been denied to the child at the center of Ghosty Boo, and giving her free range turns out to be a transformative act.
The poems in Ghosty Boo are presented without titles, although the book is broken up into five sections: “Break,” “Ghosty Boo,” “Say When,” “Terror Rooms,” and “Key and Witness.” The effect of a long series of poems presented without titles is somewhat decentering. Are these even individual poems, or is each section a long poem in parts, or is the book itself a single poem? As with the experiences of the child at the center of Ghosty Boo, the reader doesn’t get to categorize, and there are limits to what the reader can know. We have a right to a certain amount, but then no more.
It’s a contract we have with the voice that laces through the collection—a voice that has been informed by the danger so many women understand, as an early piece, one of two compositions in the “Break” section, explains:
At any moment women
might have to rally
individually to lose a piece of our bodies.
To a butcherman.
No one knows my sacrifice
except me and my bone-taker.
Tell me the difference
I assume it’s rule-based and up to ranking.
I bicker like I have always crackled
in a fire pit.
Litterer refers frequently to the act, and the dangers, of telling. “I am sawing / inside trees down,” she writes in one piece. “The trees are howling / and pissing themselves / with fear.” She also seems to reference the pain inherent to the act of telling: “oh my it is sexy when a queer woman bites her nails / down to the bloodcomingout.”
In another piece, she names a further source of trauma that is familiar to too many readers:
Last night in a red dress, I observed that
if women are fawns, timid in their drinks, martini,
then the man who raped me years ago,
large and barking, is a black wolf,
is a shot of whisky.
He got so close: his breath stank
like a casualty.
Many collections offer witness, and some offer redemption. This book is almost brutal in its willingness to let trauma sing from its own injured throat, and redemption is not part of its project. There are moments, though, of grace and relief, like the kind we wish for when we think of the speaker(s) of these poems. Here is one:
Earth, you don’t have to soak
in all the ooze
black from abuse.
Let it be
carried away and
by insects making homes.