From the opening lines, Glimmerglass Girl by Holly Lyn Walrath propelled me into an intersection between ethereal loftiness, humorous speculation, and poignant consideration.
“in the night glass is everywhere / making the concrete a river / dusting the filth with nymph sweat /
so as to rarify the mist / mirroring dashboard altars / hiding in storefronts / echoing in gutters /
glass is dangerous / glass is invisible / glass is dirty “
While there is an overriding theme of feminism and femininity—whatever that is and means to each one of us—in these poems, Walrath has also created a collection of poetry and images that encourage readers to be more than they perceive themselves to be. When she uses phrases like “tuck it into your manly smile,” the boundary between male and female seems monetarily inconsequential and moot.
“tattoo it on your cheeks / tuck it into your manly smile /
learn how to ask / so that she can say no”
And although the words “woman” and “girl” appear fewer than ten times combined in this book, Walrath has found a way to convey a sense of womanhood and girlhood that supersedes the social stereotypes and stipulations affiliated with these terms. I found this book to be revolutionary, on many levels.
While a number of the pieces hit heart and home, for me, one stands out: “The Art of Loneliness.” This poem is a six-stanza guidebook for being comfortable with yourself and learning to relish being alone. The poem begins with “I tell my sisters: cultivate loneliness” and goes on to artfully suggest ways to cope, adapt, and survive with this unavoidable condition of existence. Then Walrath wraps the piece up, in a neat package, by encouraging us to let our loneliness blossom then reign it back in when it becomes too unruly. A simple, honest poem that I feel will impact many readers’ lives.
“I tell my sisters:/ cultivate loneliness/ like you might care for/
an orchid, turning it/ gently towards the light”
Another bonus to this poetic chapbook is the images. Most of them are pencil sketches or black and white photographs, nothing spectacular on their own. But when combined with the words of Walrath, they seem to leap off the pages and secure their place in memory. This poet might be more than just a poet; maybe she’s a true collaborative artist seeking to break down barriers in the worlds we know as literature and art. Whether the art inspired the poems, or the poems inspired the selection of the images, they meld and mesh together in a dance of pure bliss in Glimmerglass Girl.
After reading the last lines of “Elegy for a Body,” I wasn’t ready to leave them. So, I lingered and let their scent waft around in my head before moving on.
“filled with energy/ of the me I remember only/ in the soft nail beds/
and crane’s neck/ and boy’s chest/ of yesterday.”
When I read the last line of “White Matter,” the closer of the collection, all I could do was take a deep breath, exhale, and start over from the beginning. Yes, I reread the book twice through in succession.
Overall, Glimmerglass Girl is a petite homage to classic poets and modern-day, poetic groundbreakers alike. Holly Lyn Walrath has a style all her own, and its worth sampling when you’re ready to acquire a new taste. Glimmerglass Girl is published by Finishing Line Press and is an affordable foray into poetry, for both literary novices and scholars. I’m grateful to have found this petite, fluttering tome of poetry when I did.
JODY T. MORSE is a multigenre writer who has had magazine articles published by outfits like ArtHouston, Texas Living, and Houstonia. Her poetry and creative nonfiction works appears in issues of Haiku Journal, Verbatim Poetry, and In Medias Res: Stories from the In-Between. Morse has published two poetry collections under her pen name, T. Haven Morse, and is the CEO of Bountiful Balcony Books, a boutique press that publishes works by new and emerging writers. You can find out more about her on her website: bountifulbalconybooks.com.