|BROADSTONE BOOKS presents
Her father tells her one night—
I got news for you, kid.
You’re not getting off this planet alive.
any anxious body
might find solace.
It may seem counter-intuitive – even morbid – to take comfort in the inevitability
of our mortality; but that is merely one of many truths confronted with both
honesty and eloquence in this compelling first collection of poetry by Chrissy
Kolaya. Another is the dark underbelly of the American dream of upward mobility
– the disconnect that occurs across the generations as the gulf of education and
economic opportunity increasingly separates the experiences, values and interests
of the young from their forebears, making each of us a stranger in the strange land
of our families, “A World Familiar/Unfamiliar” (the title of one section).
A part of this separation comes about as a result of things unspoken, the truths that
parents choose not to share with their children until they are “ready” – if ever –
and that are often first revealed or suspected only in fragments. Appropriately
then, Kolaya begins with things “Overheard,” snatches of adult conversations
offering the first clues to these secrets. More of the past is revealed through the
chance documents which form the heart of the collection. One is a set of notes
left by her great-grandmother as she lay dying in a hospital, including the
“Reckoning” of her funeral expenses and the realization that
pay for this.
The other is a letter written by her grandmother to her children, the story of a life
she needed to tell even at the risk that
you might not even like me anymore.
Many of the truths contained in these documents, and in the poems that they
inspire, have to do with the lives of working-class women, then and now. This is
perhaps the greatest value of Kolaya’s work – how it serves as a documentary of,
and a testament to, the struggles of women to survive, to care for their families, and
to achieve some degree of dignity:
Didn’t he know
she just wanted to sit out on the porch
put her feet up
and light up a Viceroy
like a lady?
Kolaya appreciates that hers is “A Privileged Life,” and that she owes these women
who have come before her a debt of gratitude. This is a proudly feminist collection
– a term that Kolaya freely embraces, because she knows the work is never done,
the struggle never over.
But even more than that, it is a profoundly humane and optimistic collection, even
as it concludes with a meditation on death and the “Diagnoses” of our human
frailties. For in the end, it is not what separates us that matters, but what we all
that at one time
you lived among the natives
and in you
the whole world was joined together.
|Publication Date: March 14, 2014
Paperback, 96 pages
Chrissy Kolaya is a poet and fiction writer.
New Stories by Minnesota Writers (Milkweed
Editions) and in a number of literary journals,
including Crazyhorse’s 50th Anniversary Best
of Crazyhorse issue. In support of her work,
she has received a Norman Mailer Writers
Colony summer scholarship, an Anderson
Center for Interdisciplinary Studies fellowship,
a Loft Mentor Series Award in Poetry, and
grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board,
the Jerome Foundation, the Lake Region Arts
Council, and the University of Minnesota,
Morris. Kolaya is one of the founders of the
Prairie Gate Literary Festival. This is her first
book. You can learn more about her work at
|ANY ANXIOUS BODY
Praise for Chrissy Kolaya & Any Anxious Body
In this fine first book of poems, Chrissy Kolaya reminds us that a life is larger than
its person, that it is made of many parts, some quite remote. Any Anxious Body
begins with the speaker’s earliest memories and ends at the grave of an unspecified
relative. Most remarkable about this journey is the spare handful of memories it
reaches back to for its beginnings, a great-grandmother’s fragmentary utterances
written in old age and saved by her daughter, used as a kind of lucky wisdom and
tact to guide the speaker into a full and generous consciousness. Life is made and
made possible by the words found to hold it down as it squirms to get away.
Chrissy Kolaya is to be congratulated for this exact and exacting art.
Roger Mitchell, author of Lemon Peeled the Moment
Before: New & Selected Poems 1967-2008
What we save, saves us. In these poems we learn the lesson of want versus need.
These poems strive across the distance between generations who lived poor and
those whose plenty is not enough. No small part of that continued wanting is to
hear and acknowledge the voices of those who survived deprivation and the
meagerness of women's lives in decades past. Kolaya's poetry is original, inventive,
direct and yet just a bit fragmented, just a little hard at times. Work is so much a
part of these poems, that making the reader work makes sense – makes
Heid E. Erdrich, author of Cell Traffic: New and
Part documentary poetics, part New York School improvisation, Any Anxious
Body reveals the ways in which the self is a poem, constructed as it is from a series
of improbable collisions that become inevitable in retrospect. This book will make
you cup your ear to the door of the past and listen more closely. It left me hearing
voices, most of all Kolaya’s own, one which I’m prepared to follow anywhere."
Dobby Gibson, author of It Becomes You