Odessa by Patricia Kirkpatrick
Patricia Kirkpatrick received the inaugural Lindquist & Vennum Poetry Prize. Her book, Odessa, selected by poet Peter Campion and published by Milkweed Editions in 2012, was awarded the 2013 Minnesota Book Award in Poetry. She is the author of Century’s Road, poetry chapbooks, and books for young readers. Her work appears widely in journals, among them Prairie Schooner, Poetry, and Agni Online, and in anthologies, including Robert Bly in This World and She Walks in Beauty, edited by Caroline Kennedy. Her awards include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Bush Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Loft- McKnight.
Odessa’s Description on Amazon: A grim prognosis, brain cancer, leaves the speaker in Kirkpatrick’s Odessa fighting for her life. The tumor presses against her amygdalae, the “emotional core of the self,” and central to the process of memory. In poems endowed with this emotional charge but void of sentimentality, Kirkpatrick sets out to recreate what was lost by fashioning a dreamlike reality. Odessa, “roof of the underworld,” a refuge at once real and imagined, resembles simultaneously the Midwestern prairie and a mythical god-inhabited city. In image-packed lines bearing shades of Classical heroism, Kirkpatrick delivers a personal narrative of stunning dimension.
*This book includes a number of quotes from other works and seems to introduce them as essential to the meaning of the poems. Do you believe it’s possible to get a full sense of these poems without having read these other works? Do you feel that works with obvious knowledge and study behind them, such as this one, can actually potentially alienate an audience? How did you feel about it?
*Not having had a brain tumor yourself, how effective do you feel Kirkpatrick’s project was? Did you feel the ache and confusion and the loneliness of her experience? What else did you gather from it?
*What was your favorite part of this book? Why?
*Do you feel that you will read more work by Kirkpatrick?
Next Book Up: June 2014 – “Oldie but Goodie” Month – Howl by Allen Ginsberg