The Haunted House by Marisa Crawford
Marisa Crawford's first collection of poetry evokes The Breakfast Club's angst with deliberate control and fresh upheaval. Centering on coming-of-age themes, Crawford is brutally honest yet careful in her representations and confessional moments—she invokes a preteen voice, capturing in detail female subjects, such as one who wears "cotton flowers on her undershirt," and describing "men who leave handprints all over your blankets." There is a maddening and desirous investment in the characters littered throughout: Ivy, Deidre, Virginia, Stephanie, Megan. Each girl is a catalyst for another brilliantly crafted poem; each poem is a catalyst for swizzle-stick nostalgia and a close re-examination of girlhood. The winner of the 2008 Gatewood Prize, Crawford reminds us that although we may make it out of our childhoods alive, we never quite shake our own personal geographies.
Praise for Marisa Crawford from Denise Duhamel
Marisa Crawford's The Haunted House is indeed "a House that tries to be Haunted." A descendant of Dickinson, she's also very much her own poet, reclaiming and enlarging poetic conventions. Crawford's free verse poems are carved from sonnets and anaphora, the aura of traditional fixed forms glowing in an outline around her experimental gestures. Her prose blocks take us from room to room, trunk to trunk, closet to closet, where girls keep boxes of photographs and cigarettes and secrets. The "Gurlesque" specificity of Crawford's poems — swizzle sticks, candy cane striped fingernails, ice cube popsicles, kewpie dolls, Freddy Krueger — are balanced with an elliptical otherworldliness, riddles and combination locks. These poems are energetic and exuberant, like the best young adult novels are.
From Arielle Greenberg
The Haunted House is like a locker-room exposè of a certain strain of American female adolescence, and its uncanny knack for detail-cupcakes baked into wafer cones, mushrooms drawn on notebooks, the "post-prom"-will resonate powerfully for those in the know...or those who want to be. It's all here: the complex machinations of female friendship, the magic spells and poisons and horror stories, the "top-secret sequins": Crawford has done us a service, capturing in fun, dark, exciting poems an experience many of us have shared but few have written about so fluidly. This poetry is the unholy and inevitable spawn of Emily Dickinson and Judy Blume. And it's a sugar high. Enter and enjoy the rush.
From Toni Mirosevich
This book is a marvel. This house opens with a skeleton key. We enter and find false floors, trapdoors, and surprises in each and every shining poem. In Marisa Crawford's The Haunted House, riddles reign and secrets spill. Crawford comes equipped with her own girl gang, "...a choir of teenaged girls to tell our story." Before they're through they'll shake down all our assumptions about girldom. "What's your locker combination, without your memory?" the poet asks in "Pachyderm." What's a new book of poetry without a prom parade of ghosts and girlfriends, joyrides with monsters, poems that offer up humor with your thrills, language so sharp it chills, and lines that will make you stop dead in your tracks? "If heaven was a house, what bone structure." It's scary how good this is.
From Michelle Tea
These poems are sticky and tough and glossy and romantic — coded love notes passed behind a teacher's desk in high school, magic marker on a bathroom stall, crying at your bedroom window after painting on your bedroom walls with nail polish sort of poems. Marisa Crawford is hauntingly in love with her subjects and after a poem or two you are too.
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