Black Wick: Selected Elegies
Editors’ Pick from the 2020 Variant Literature Chapbook Contest.
These poems are spare, raw, aching with longing and loss. From them emerge two portraits: one, of a young man struggling with substance abuse and self-harm, who eventually embraces death as the ultimate act of love for self; and another, that of a mother who cannot fathom the loss and turns to poetry as her ultimate act of love for her son. Though the collection is excruciating in its relentlessly dark subject matter and trauma, the poems themselves are accessible and full of rich imagery, revealing Kennedy-Nolle’s exceptional poetic talent. This is a poet who knows her craft, who scaffolds the work intentionally, developing a narrative energy in poem after excellent poem, with nothing superfluous or out-of-place. In the end, Sharon Kennedy-Nolle’s Black Wick is not an easy book to read (elegies never are), but it is satisfying.
—JC Reilly, Author of What Magick May Not Alter
In Black Wick: Selected Elegies, Sharon Kennedy-Nolle furthers the depth and complexity of the heart’s capacity for memory, the heart’s dire need to find answers. While commemorating her son’s life, the speaker, unable to clearly envision the way forward, turns to poetry, addressing the departed-cum-daemon, asking, “did no / other path / lead away from the water?” This collection is a devastation of small fire after small fire, but unlike fire which erases as it burns, these poems sear with a haunting pain that endures.
—Rajiv Mohabir, Author of The Taxidermist’s Cut and The Cowherd’s Son