by Emily K. Michael
What Amazon Says
A lively and imaginative debut, Neoteny explores blindness, family, and birdsong. In these poems, Emily K. Michael meditates on literary and personal heroes like Jo March, her beloved grandmother, and her guide dog. This collection is rich with treasures from childhood — the honey-colored piano Michael played, the fig tree in her front yard and the trays of fresh mint drying on her grandmother’s table. The poems move between a child mind and an adult’s perspective as Michael contemplates the rich emotional power of commonplace objects and the way her own blindness complicates everyday situations. Poems like “In This One” and “I Say Yes” take the reader into the domestic moments of young romance while “Deficiencies,” and “Wood Thrush” invite readers to disappear in wonder for the wild world.
A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Michael weaves local sounds and spaces into her work. “Anniversary in St. Augustine” is the story of a couple’s private tour of historical landmarks, while “Ajeen” captures the quiet of a deserted street deep in hurricane season. “Trading Threes” and “Encore” welcomes local birds onto the page as Michael immortalizes the sounds of mockingbirds and cardinals.
Though Neoteny is an uplifting collection, Michael confesses the difficulties she experiences as a blind poet in a sighted world. In “Small Hours,” she asks readers to wonder just how important their vision really is, and in “Blindness Locked Me Out,” she catalogues the situations where her disability relegated her to the sidelines. “Natural Compliance” maps the challenge of exploring the wilderness with a white cane and wheelchair. And “A Phenomenology of Blindness” is Michael’s resounding answer to the common questions about how blindness works. To those who think Michael is seeking a cure, she offers “Faith,” a poem that examines how healing really works.
Neoteny also pays tribute to the poets Michael loves. “Practice” is Michael’s nod to CD Wright’s “Lake Echo, Dear” and “Antiphon for Emily” is her song for Emily Dickinson. Neoteny opens on “I Begin to Understand Jo March,” a finalist for the 2018 Atlantis Award. The final poem is “Cello,” first published in Artemis Journal and later included in Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital’s Poems in the Waiting Room. Poems from this collection have also appeared in Wordgathering, Nine Mile Magazine, The Fem, Saw Palm, The Deaf Poets Society, Rogue Agent, and The South Carolina Review.
I don’t recommend starting this collection on an empty stomach. The author’s descriptions of delectable delights in “Ajeen” and other poems about food at the beginning will make your mouth water, and you’ll abandon any plans to enjoy some poetry before lunch. But if you download the Audible version, you can eat and read poetry simultaneously if you wish.
I love the way Emily Michael narrates her own poetry here. The piano interlude at the end gives the production a nice touch. I could identify with “Blindness Locked Me Out” and her poems about playing music and attending concerts. I also appreciate how she tells us what being blind is not. This collection isn’t just about blindness. Even if you are experiencing vision loss, it will enlighten you on a variety of topics.
By the way, from now until July 31st, you can download My Ideal Partner and The Red Dress absolutely free from Smashwords as part of its annual summer/winter sale. Click here to visit my Smashwords author page.
Also, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. Thank you for reading. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.
Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books
When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.
Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.
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