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Winner of the 2007 Gatewood Prize, selected by Patty Seyburn


Kathleen Rooney's Oneiromance (an epithalamion) explores the absurdity and divinity of the marriage ceremony through a dizzying dream sequence with playful verse that skillfully blends call and response with Shakespearean odes, romance and cynicism, story-telling and wordplay.

"For Kathleen Rooney a wedding is a script, and the ceremony takes place in at least six genres: cartoon, western, thriller, soap opera, documentary, and sitcom. Oneiromance is one long delirious 'homage to the glorious / states of our unions,' which are all the more glorious since 'no one can explain the state that we're in.'" —Christian Hawkey

"Omeiromance puts the overt back in verse. Extravagant in sweep and pathos, the beauty of these poems soars like a wedding cake for astronauts. Kathleen Rooney is a poet too rich to read at one sitting, but I think any reader will enjoy extending the honeymoon they take with this book. I wish I could sufficiently praise its merits in kind, be a match for its flights and profundities." —Bill Knott

"Kathleen Rooney's beautifully structured epithalamion is saturated with nuptial terror: the music and friction, zeal and unease, absurdity and profundity of marriage. Oneiromance parodies and feasts upon the vain excesses of contemporary wedding culture, but there's tenderness and devotion here, too—a sweetness that's saucy rather than cloying: 'Her breasts seem to him lovely as mud- / daubed birds' nests.' I'm thrilled by a sensibility so acerbic, funny, sad, sardonic, insouciant, salty, and bittersweet, by poems so rich with slippage, misgiving, loss, and wit. Rooney's work is animated by a dexterous, inventive intelligence and a fearless imagination: 'those pearls / on your bodice are really your baby teeth?' Her poems fibrillate with fine surprises; their originality and edge are stunning. Like 'a book in sandpaper' that could 'destroy everything else on the shelves,' Oneiromance is scary good, wicked good, and Kathleen Rooney is surely one of the most brilliant poets of her generation, a discovery. Her linguistic powers provoke and awaken the page."  —Alice Fulton


"Kathleen Rooney's remarkable new book runs on the excellent steam of dream logic and poetry magic, whose essential connections can be illuminated only by the steadiest of hands. Each page is vertiginous with surprise, a difficult, high-wire act throughout which she maintains an impressive level of control. It's obvious she loves language to distraction and revels in its play, to our great advantage and amusement. This is that rare and wonderful thing, the poetry of celebration that doesn't dismiss darkness but pulls it into the dance. Oneiromance (an epithalamion) is an inordinately entertaining romp through Brazil, the American Midwest, and Niagara Falls, which, in a final surprise, ends on a quietly moving note that feels both satisfying and true."  —Sidney Wade


"The surreal, ethereal dreamscapes described in the poems compliments the uncertainties that are naturally associated with the subjects of marriage and establishes the speaker as a vulnerable, yet stalwart presences in the poems."  —from Emily Thomas's review at Redivider, Spring 2009, Issue 6.2

"Quirky microcosms intersect with bigger pictures-individual insecurities interact with more widespread parameters of acceptability-and the surreality of wedding as pageant is juxtaposed with issues of personal identity and how such identity may shift as one approaches a ceremony that is oft portrayed as a life changing event."  —from Juliet Cook's Best Reads of 2008: Poetry

"But poetry already presents enough questions and Rooney is kind enough to punctuate her sentences with periods, her anxieties with a promise of sorts to herself, as well as her spouse...Rooney and her personae address their fears without succumbing to them or the temptation of an overly simplistic triumph over them." —from Christopher Gallinari's review at Waiting for the Bus

Web Del Sol review of Oneiromance

Rattle review of Oneiromance

Poemelon review of Oneiromance

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, and the author, most recently, of the art modeling memoir Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Object (University of Arkansas Press, 2009), the essay collection For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs (Counterpoint, 2010), and the poetry collection Robinson Alone (Gold Wake Press, 2012). She is also the author of the poetry collection Oneiromance (an epithalamion) (Switchback Books, 2008) and, with Elisa Gabbert, the collaborative poetry collection That Tiny Insane Voluptuousness (Otoliths Books, 2008). She lives in Chicago.

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