|Image: A field of purple coneflowers shown close up. Blurred, white flowers grow with the purple. The title appears at the top in white letters, and the poet's name appears at the bottom in all caps.|
Note: I received a copy of this book in order to review it.
I hail the commonplace: dewy and sharp.
Every piece in Neoteny encapsulates (yet elevates) the small, common moments that make up a life. The snapshots of lyrical, tiny memories and observations hold perfect place with the subtle indicators of time and timelessness. Instead of dismissing the heft of fruit, the sound of birdsong, and splashes of color in favor of once-in-a-lifetime hullabaloo, Emily K. Michael pulls you into the spaces along with her and invites you to experience them in lush detail.
We drove two hours to walk the old quarter—
traded thirty dollars for three hundred years.
Hollow houses, tiny plaques, costumed guides interrupted,
joyful crunches on studded gravel.
-from "Anniversary in St. Augustine"
These poems are a collective of sensual proximity. The narrator of the poems is almost always in contact with her partner, friends, guide dog, or nature in various ways. Connections are keenly portrayed.
Step out onto the lawn at dusk, dog leash
loose like reins in your fingers.
Over the quiet jingle of collar,
cardinal voices cross the yard.
-from "Trading Threes"
There are poems about blindness in this slim volume, but there are also poems that don't mention it at all. The poems that do address blindness sometimes also address abled folly and misconception, but they never fall into tirade.
You don't think about what we look like?
She smiles: That must be so nice.
You're not hung up on it.
-from "Small Hours"
There is a quiet music to these poems, and they are woven together well. This collection is definitely worth your time.
Biography: Emily K. Michael is a blind poet, musician, and writing instructor from Jacksonville, FL. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Wordgathering, The Hopper, Artemis Journal, The Deaf Poets Society, Nine Mile Magazine, Compose Journal, The Fem, and more. Her manuscript Natural Compliance won Honorable Mention in The Hopper’s 2016 Prize for Young Poets. Emily is the poetry editor for Wordgathering, an open-access journal under the auspices of Syracuse University. Emily’s work centers on the themes of ecology, disability, feminism, and music. She develops grammar workshops for multilingual learners and participates in local writing festivals. She also curates the Blind Academy blog. Her first book Neoteny: Poems is out from Finishing Line Press.