Tales of the Sisters (2016)
There’s a poetry so close to the bone I’m afraid to look into a mirror, a poetry so razor-edged I know it will find my core, a poetry with such an authentic voice I can’t help but listen. Kim Garcia’s writing affects me this way. Her chapbook Tales of the Sisters unfolds a dark map of childhood – in the vein of Transformations by Anne Sexton and The Father by Sharon Olds. The child’s world created here is a modern echo of the shadowy and disturbing landscapes of the Brothers Grimm. As I read the many entries to this year’s contest, I kept finding my way back to her words.
Garcia’s chapbook is a force and difficult to put down. Readers as witness won’t be able to avert their eyes from the intense tangle of loss and pain and memory. This is a book about juxtaposed worlds, about innocent trust at war with darkness: a “scuffled place in the snow, // one red glove where black asphalt showed through,” “the whole stink of his rage,” the “smell // of rotten leaves, where the toads hid,” “as he bludgeoned rats, big as small dogs, / and threw their bodies into the furnace,” and “red cherry lights swirling the white plaster ceiling”. With the filmic ease of a gifted pen, Garcia sweeps us into a brutal reality that does eventually settle into mercy and silence. What remains is the story.
Two long poems – the title piece, divided into seven parts throughout the pages, and “The Little Golden Books” – represent the collection’s emotional center. All urges of relationships, guilt, and memory connect with these crucial works, transforming a childhood home into an almost magical world so intense one dare not look too closely. It’s “a place no one can see,” but Garcia takes us there, and we’re glad she knows the way. Tales of the Sisters is a remarkable, stirring read .
- Sam Rasnake, Associate Editor and Chapbook Contest Judge
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"Kim Garcia has entered deeply into our recent hidden nightmare with her eyes and heart wide-open and made something of beauty out of the terrible and incomprehensible. Fittingly, things are always falling from the sky in these poems—rain, fire, the sound of bells, swords, two crows, sunlight—and we are, as usual, down below, dumbstruck, looking anxiously, hopefully, upward."
– Nick Flynn
"This is a necessary book of meditation, of prayer, in a time of drones. Kim Garcia moves through innumerable facets of our American lives in order to understand what has happened to her soul. For drones are what hover around every poem here. Silently and unseen. When we tend our gardens, work our jobs, lawns, fields, when we dream or listen to our children or say our prayers alone or in church. The drones are never "somewhere else."
– Fady Joudah
The Brighter House (2016)
White Pine Press Poetry Prize Winner
"Rainer Maria Rilke said that there are two inexhaustible sources for poetry, childhood and dreams, and Kim Garcia drinks deeply from both wells in these magical, spooky, riveting, and mysterious poems"—Edward Hirsch
"Garcia speaks in the language of delicate and mesmerizing touch without ever falling into precious sentimentality. Over and again, these poems mount to harsh and cold violences that speak to the intricacies of the soul in a gorgeous way that leaves the reader feeling bruised—as in pressed upon—but not bloody. This is a brilliant book of first-rate artistry."—Jericho Brown, Poetry Prize judge
Madonna Magdalene (2006)
"Kim Garcia has a gift for re-creating—rethinking—primary stories. She moves fluently between her own experiences and her interrogation of religious myths. Her inquisitive lyric mode and powerful religious passion have flowered into a startling book of origins, a mature and passionate first book of poems."
— Edward Hirsch