I recently had the pleasure of writing a back cover blurb for Norma Gay Prewett’s poetry collection, The Perpetual Commotion of the Heart, now available from Finishing Line Press (cover art by the author). Four of the poems appeared online in the Spring 2010 issue of Cambridge Book Review with audio of Gay reading her work: “Cottonbound,” “Knowing that Most Things Break,” “Calling You Back,” and “Bill of Lading.”
—Back cover blurb—
Norma Gay Prewett is a gloriously tactile poet, whether sharing childhood memories of her school-janitor father in ‘Shorty’ (‘scraper of Pleistocene gum / from under chairs…’), or ‘Grape Jellying at the End of the Century’ (‘Never will the grape be as sweet, the juice as hot’). She is a pragmatist of earthly practicalities (‘Knowing that Most Things Break’) and a fearless limit-tester in love (‘Finding the Bottom’). A bracing American wilderness beckons and challenges us in the title poem, ‘The Perpetual Commotion of the Heart’ (‘Opening the cabin on April 29, we found snowpack / Had kneecapped the bee-keeping shack…’). Prewett’s survival skills are hard-won and true. You can trust her navigation. Her poetry is a GPS tracker for our lost souls.—Bob Wake, editor, Cambridge Book Review
Madison poet Norma Gay Prewett visited us in Cambridge to record several pieces of poetry and prose centered around her mother, who died four years ago on Prewett’s 56th birthday. Cottonbound: An Audio Chapbook is now online at Cambridge Book Review. Here’s a sample:
Bill of Lading / Norma Gay Prewett
A chewed-looking Styrofoam snowman head, ++++++Black felt pipe, googly stuffed-animal eyes ++++++(also the bag of eyes, I discover later)
A sweater that smells disagreeable unless it is your mom’s ++++++An ocher clipping with a penned-in arrow ++++++To my head—”My Daughter” as if I don’t ++++++Recall sitting in turpentine at Methodist art camp
Some recipes she never used, but carefully copied longhand ++++++Swedish meatballs, ham loaf, Hanukkah cookies ++++++Did she know we were not Jewish? Did she know
The people in the multi-picture frame, never filled with us, ++++++So beautiful and fresh, having action-packed fun? ++++++She never saw the sea, but pictures of the sea— ++++++Did she long for the thrum of waves on pebble?
Some hanks of yarn, maybe free, from the spinners where ++++++Her working life began at fifty, where she nearly ++++++Fell in love with her foreman, but for her bad heart
Her bad heart, to my brother, who died with it in his chest. ++++++Her Ozark drawl, her temper, her madwalk to my sis- ++++++ter; her terror of twisters to all, her scrawl she left ++++++backwards, to her ma. After all, most say I got
Her hazel eyes, her love of fun, her Irish hair, and the low ++++++Thyroid that left her brows and mine scant ++++++She left her death-day as my birthday, to me, alone.