Weaves a Clear Night
Set in modern-day Appalachia, this chapbook in seventeen sections imaginatively recasts the myths surrounding Penelope’s fidelity to Odysseus. Lyrical, meditative, and deeply sensual, the poems follow the emotional isolation of a woman poised between two men, neither of whom can be a part of her daily life. The “you” in this collection is a secret love, the “he” is Odysseus, and the “son” is Telemachus. Despite the absence of the lover and the husband, their presence surrounds her. The result is a poetic narrative where memory and future fears disrupt the very existence of a physical present. Highly imagistic, Pence’s writing displays precision, structure, and grace along with depth and narrative ambition.
“Charlotte Pence’s chapbook takes as its warp the Penelope myth of fidelity to Odysseus and takes as its weft a modern-day Appalachian speaker vulnerable to ‘longing . . . the unraveling of every blanket I’ve ever touched.’ This graceful seventeen-part poem is never predictable but is unified by the author’s fidelity to devastating images, sumptuous sounds, and a true and quiet voice that undoes our myths about love. I was captivated by the skill, the passion, and the ideas here.”
—-Nancy Pagh, author of No Sweeter Fat and After
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