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.
Without self-pity, these poems chart the course of a wounded brain coming to life from injury. Each poem is a genuine straightforward account of this reckoning. Where is wellness and how does it feel? The whole person and the damaged person coexist, composing a series of elements — fear, sorrow, memory loss — but from all emerge strong clear writing that lives the only life it has, and does it meaningfully.
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.
BRAIN INJURY ADVOCACY
Since experiencing brain injury first-hand, Marcia has been involved in helping to increase awareness of the devastation that Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) cause in so many lives.
Marcia’s presentation, "An Artist’s Journey of Recovery from Mild Traumatic Brain Injury", offers listeners an immersion in the often-invisible effects of this shattering injury. She offers stories from her own experience, including her encounters with medical professionals. She also uses poems from A Crown of Hornets, and her related multi-genre works, to give the audience a visceral sense of her experience and to highlight the way that creative work provided an essential tool in her recovery.
Presentations and interviews include: Walter Reed's National Intrepid Center for Excellence; Psychiatry Grand Rounds at Montefiore Medical Center (Albert Einstein College of Medicine); Clinician's Ear series at the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities, University of Virginia School of Medicine; Montclair Local (article by Gwen Orel); Faces of TBI (interview with host Amy Zellmer); and Another Fork in the Road (interview with host Donna O’Donnell Figurski).
...you are entertaining, inspiring, and deserving of large audiences wherever you go. Speaking of which: we will plan on having you back for presentations both in a large auditorium and in smaller formats.