Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Splendid New Chapbook from Karen Weyant




(image: cover of Stealing Dust, by Karen J. Weyant)








I just finished reading a chapbook of poetry by Karen J. Weyant, Stealing Dust. It is splendid.

The poems are firmly anchored in working-class experiences in an area of the nation routinely called "the Rust Belt," and they represent varied, nuanced elements of those experiences, including but not limited to the perspectives of working-class women. The poems are clear and accessible but deceptively complex, and one wants to return to poems multiple times. The voice is mature and unpretentious, the imagery superb, and the control of language admirable.

Several poems have irresistible titles: "The Spring of Hand-Me-Downs," "The Girl Who Carved Jesus Into Her Forearm," "Delusions of a Die Setter's Daughter," "Beauty Tips from the Girls on the 3rd Shift," and "Why Men in Factories Should Never Write Love Stories." The latter poem may well be my favorite in the book, but it has lots of competition.

Certainly my own working-class roots (albeit on the Left Coast) and a general affinity for working-class literature draw me to the book, but at the same time, this poetry succeeds on its own merits, and if you like strong, unaffected contemporary poetry, you'll enjoy this chapbook.

It is from Finishing Line Press, P.O. Box 1626, Georgetown, Kentucky 40324, and of course it's available on amazon.com as well. The ISBNs are 1-59924-397-0 and 1-59924-397-9. Buy one for yourself and for a friend (a National Poetry Month gift), and most certainly urge your local librarian to order one. Finishing Line is a well know publisher of chapbooks.

Weyant teaches writing and literature at Jamestown Community College, and she also writes a blog called "The Scrapper Poet," which is on the blog-roll to the right.
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