paper • 86 pages • 15.95
ISBN: 978-1-945588-28-0

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A Crown of Hornets

Marcia Pelletiere

Pelletiere’s poems convey a visceral sense of the poet’s harrowing recovery from brain injury after a car – truck accident that altered her experience of both body and language. 

“MALADY OF RECOGNIZE” from A Crown of Hornets

Slow is how
the shapes

shift before they
gather names
behind the eyes.
Inside this skull
can you find signs
of what erratic charge

came piercing,
reckless, in? Who can

tip back the faulty weight
whose slivered ends
cracked the mast

where seamlessness
had been?

Praise by Helen Fremont
Praise by Kamilah Aisha Moon
Praise by Kate Daniels
Praise by Grace Cavalieri for The Washington Independent Review of Books
Praise by Eleanor Wilner for Ploughshares

“Marcia Pelletiere’s work is nothing short of miraculous. In this breathtaking collection, she portrays the sudden terrifying loss, and arduous regaining, of her sense of self. The rhythm and music of her poems are transformative; we experience them on a visceral level, as if the words were not merely written to be read, but to be etched directly into our bodies and minds.”

“This is a poet writing from the cliffs of herself: ‘With my trampled mind/ I saw and weighed the thunder.’ With uncommon precision, Marcia Pelletiere gives voice to what’s been irrevocably altered while embodying not only what survives, but continues to save. In breathtaking, kaleidoscopic fashion, these poems detail a woman’s new (a)symmetries after catastrophe. Pelletiere is writing in the wake of very specific circumstances, but who among us hasn’t ‘pleaded with the storm to stay/veiled and delicate inside my skin?’ These poems makes me guard my throat, groan in recognition. What truth-gold she mines out of misfortune! ‘I don’t know what I knew,’ she writes. Lucille Clifton once said, ‘Even when the universe made it quite clear to me that I was mistaken in my certainties… I did not break. The shattering of my sureties did not shatter me.’ How fortuitous to encounter this poet who also asserts, ‘Some of us get so messed up/ we can’t get back./ But I’m welded for heavy use again.'”

“Marcia Pelletiere’s astonishing new collection achieves a melding of form and content that is rare in our time. Working from autobiographical material, she has fashioned a poetic language that transmits both denotatively and metaphorically the peculiar linguistic and visual symptoms of traumatic brain injury. Endowed with a huge lexicon, and strengthened by a storehouse of dynamic syntax, Pelletiere’s poems shimmer and shine even as they break us apart with their masterful evocations of woundedness, and the poet’s determined search for wholeness after illness.”

“…strong clear writing that lives the only life it has, and does it meaningfully….” Read the full review.

“As the title turns sonnets into hornets, so these stunning poems brilliantly capture (and I believe for the first time) the interior experience of life and language ‘going Babel’ after the catastrophe of brain trauma. Somehow, ‘she listens /to the damage that she’s so long occupied,’ giving us the precious gift of insight into a soul once stranded in a broken world, her poetry an act of reclamation.”