Thursday, September 22, 2011
Review of THE POSSIBILITY OF SCORPIONS by Connemara Wadsworth,
Winner of the White Eagle Coffee Store Press Fall 2009 Chapbook Contest, 24 pages, White Eagle Coffee Store Press, PO Box 383, Fox River Grove, IL 60021-0383, www.whiteeaglecoffeestorepress.com
Review by Barbara Bialick
It’s easy to see why this chapbook was a winner. It’s trim, neat, and organized.
It’s well on the mark as a travel memoir of a seven year old American girl from Boston who voyaged with her parents and brother on an architectural Fulbright grant to Baghdad, Iraq from 1952-1954, whose vivid images are interpreted by her status as an older grown woman who has since traveled to other foreign places such as Nepal and Kenya. These other places sometimes glint with a memory of her trip to Baghdad, but, she explains, “I see Iraq now like an old photo/yellowed, torn. Only moments of a story/survive. I hold lost images under my skin./Think of crazy quilt patches/of a flowered dress worn only twice.”
I think it would be a disservice to the author to tell you more than a brief imagery of the rude, yet intriguing place she was happy to leave again. For she reveals her secrets slowly and carefully, bringing you through a these experiences in exactly 24 pages. The cover, a close up on a young girl’s “mary jane” shoes on a strange rug, from a wood block print by April Kendziora Smith, sets the stage perfectly. These experiences were to her “like beads found under a radiator…” with voices “from tinny radios, I begin to take/comfort in the music’s new familiarity…”
Beware of what can happen when familiarity is not really family at all. Observe the brutality with which a donkey is beheaded to feed circus animals. These incidents and more make the book a bit painful to read, but is well done.
The author notes, “I began writing about our lives there long before the onset of the Persian Gulf War and our current ‘war against terror,’ both of which rekindled many more memories. Living in a vastly different culture…laid a foundation for a deep sense of a wider world and led to a commitment to exploring other cultures…”
Connemara Wadsworth graduated from Friends World College, an international program. She studied education and later became an elementary school teacher, after first working as a weaver. Her poems have appeared in Ibbetson Street, Bloodroot Literary Magazine, and others. She has three grown children and lives in Newton, Massachusetts.