Glimmerglass Girl is a collection of poetry and images about womanhood and femininity. This debut collection from author Holly Lyn Walrath explores life, love, marriage, abuse, self-harm, the body, death, and alcoholism through the lens of a woman’s heart. It takes readers through a speculative and fantastical world of fairy tales and unicorns where femininity is as powerful and delicate as a glass-winged butterfly.
“Tensile and luminous as a glass-winged butterfly, Glimmerglass Girl chronicles the passions of a woman’s heart and its multifarious musings with a marvelous mix of toughness and tenderness. In a shimmering world at once ‘honey-brimmed and buzzing,’ where ‘blueberry coffee’ and a ‘kissing prayer,’ or a ‘quiet mess of a body of light’ offer diurnal delights, this wildly chimerical gathering of hybridized fairy tales and fabulous meditations on womanhood might carry Emily Dickinson’s admonition of epistolary intimacy, ‘open me carefully.’ Indeed, readers should open Walrath’s slender volume carefully, hold these rare poems up to the sun, then lean in quietly to hear each one sing in flight.” —Karen An-hwei Lee, author of Phylo of Joy, Ardor, and In Medias Res.
A chapbook of feminine writings with tales of fragile emotions that stir a whirlwind of strength. If read by a male mind, he may feel closer to knowing the heart of a woman. When a woman reads these poems, she may feel they were written for her.
It was impossible for me to stop reading until I had finished the last poem. Then I was sorry to see it over. I truly wanted more of this writing style.
The author tells secrets. She dares to say it. Life expects us to play nice and these poems felt like an outlet. Each poem meant something very deep and very personal to me.
While reading, I was reminded of things I do not need and the things that mean the most. What should be cherished. What can be let go.
In this wonderful book of poetry, the mundane is art.
Taking a note from one poem in particular, “I AM GOING TO FIND THE UNICORNS”. The entire piece is surreal yet hits me. It screams and sets things straight with “Blood and horns and teeth.” It is a beautiful way to thumb your nose to the world and carry on as one may see fit.
This poetry is not typical. The art following each poem makes this book a beautiful illustration.
The stories are told quickly. Being short and to the point, the point is driven hard and deep.
Mature reading and highly recommended.
From the opening lines, Glimmerglass Girl by Holly Lyn Walrath propelled me into an intersection between ethereal loftiness, humorous speculation, and poignant consideration.
“in the night glass is everywhere / making the concrete a river / dusting the filth with nymph sweat /
so as to rarify the mist / mirroring dashboard altars / hiding in storefronts / echoing in gutters /
glass is dangerous / glass is invisible / glass is dirty “
While there is an overriding theme of feminism and femininity—whatever that is and means to each one of us—in these poems, Walrath has also created a collection of poetry and images that encourage readers to be more than they perceive themselves to be. When she uses phrases like “tuck it into your manly smile,” the boundary between male and female seems monetarily inconsequential and moot.
“tattoo it on your cheeks / tuck it into your manly smile /
learn how to ask / so that she can say no”
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And although the words “woman” and “girl” appear fewer than ten times combined in this book, Walrath has found a way to convey a sense of womanhood and girlhood that supersedes the social stereotypes and stipulations affiliated with these terms. I found this book to be revolutionary, on many levels.
While a number of the pieces hit heart and home, for me, one stands out: “The Art of Loneliness.” This poem is a six-stanza guidebook for being comfortable with yourself and learning to relish being alone. The poem begins with “I tell my sisters: cultivate loneliness” and goes on to artfully suggest ways to cope, adapt, and survive with this unavoidable condition of existence. Then Walrath wraps the piece up, in a neat package, by encouraging us to let our loneliness blossom then reign it back in when it becomes too unruly. A simple, honest poem that I feel will impact many readers’ lives.
“I tell my sisters:/ cultivate loneliness/ like you might care for/
an orchid, turning it/ gently towards the light”
Another bonus to this poetic chapbook is the images. Most of them are pencil sketches or black and white photographs, nothing spectacular on their own. But when combined with the words of Walrath, they seem to leap off the pages and secure their place in memory. This poet might be more than just a poet; maybe she’s a true collaborative artist seeking to break down barriers in the worlds we know as literature and art. Whether the art inspired the poems, or the poems inspired the selection of the images, they meld and mesh together in a dance of pure bliss in Glimmerglass Girl.
After reading the last lines of “Elegy for a Body,” I wasn’t ready to leave them. So, I lingered and let their scent waft around in my head before moving on.
“filled with energy/ of the me I remember only/ in the soft nail beds/
and crane’s neck/ and boy’s chest/ of yesterday.”
When I read the last line of “White Matter,” the closer of the collection, all I could do was take a deep breath, exhale, and start over from the beginning. Yes, I reread the book twice through in succession.
Overall, Glimmerglass Girl is a petite homage to classic poets and modern-day, poetic groundbreakers alike. Holly Lyn Walrath has a style all her own, and its worth sampling when you’re ready to acquire a new taste. Glimmerglass Girl is published by Finishing Line Press and is an affordable foray into poetry, for both literary novices and scholars. I’m grateful to have found this petite, fluttering tome of poetry when I did.
FEMINISTS CONNECT: HOLLY LYN WALRATH ON URSULA K. LE GUIN
So thrilled to present this special feature series, Feminists Connect, sharing artists inspiration of women and/or feminist artists on their work. Today Holly Lyn Walrath shares how Ursula K. Le Guin inspired her work and an interview about her recent work…
I am excited to introduce you to three books recommended by Houston-area talent Holly Lyn Walrath. Not only is she a gifted poet, an inventive flash fiction writer, and the editor of quality anthologies, she is a stalwart member of the Texas writing community. If Holly can find a way to give another local writer a hand, she will. Including her prize-winning flash piece in the bonus flash fiction section of Approaching Footsteps felt like a win-win. Recently, I got an advanced peek at her new chapbook Glimmerglass Girl from Finishing Line Press and it’s excellent. Let’s learn which three books have stolen her heart…