Forthcoming Work, Books, Chapbook
This just out: an award-winning poem in Booth!
(also nominated for a Pushcart Prize, thank you Booth!)
and another in The Florida Review
Tongue (Red Hen Press 2010)
Winner of the 2008 Benjamin Saltman Award
Red Hen Press (Granada Hills, CA)
"In her twelfth summer, a girl left the Midwest for an island in Maine where her brilliant, ill grandmother lived in a cottage on a pine-rimmed lake. The girl was to keep house, to keep the old lady company. Back home, her older sister starved herself. That summer, the island was troubled by the discovery of a human tongue on the beach."
Praise for Tongue:
Rachel Contreni Flynn, the winner of this year’s Benjamin Saltman Award, honors us with the grace of her language, her strength of purpose as a poet, and the uncluttered emotional honesty of her work. These poems chronicle the stark contrasts that mark the lives of two sisters. A quirky adolescence and early adulthood is thrust upon one while the other’s life is measured out in slow ounces. I was captured by this passionate and loving recounting of tragic years and dislocations.
--Eloise Klein Healy, Final Judge, 2008 Benjamin Saltman Award
Rachel Contreni Flynn’s intimate collection examines exile from the self, the body, and from family and society as it exacts the dangerous and necessary work of remembering. In Tongue, the narrative lens shifts breathtakingly between trauma, wonder, insight and irony, each laboring in concert to “force the story to its rightful unfolding.” Flynn demonstrates that identity is shaped by, and the self owes its very survival to, that unfolding where beauty is crafted from toxin, music from intractable anger—and with the tongue (as both language and tough muscle), one must “feast on solitude” in order to sing out bravely the root-note of grace. These wise, tender poems urge us to “love this world, though it is flawed/. . .love it entirely, or be lost” all the while recognizing that such an undertaking is no less than the daily rescue of one’s own life from exile.
Tongue is available for purchase from amazon.com; spdbooks.org and Red Hen Press.
Ice, Mouth, Song: A Collection of Poems
Winner of the 2003 Dorset Prize from Tupelo Press (North Adams, MA), published July 2005
Purchase from Tupelo Press
The poem "Dead Center" appears on http://www.poets.org
Winner of the 2008 Chapbook Award from Bright Hill Press (Treadwell, NY), published June 2009
Purchase from http://www.spdbooks.org
of my body, my body wept
its blood and grit. When they
took you out of my body,
the man beside me lost his face
in a sycamore leaf. When they took
you out of my body, the emptiness
gleamed and clicked. An emptiness
so sudden it was as if coldness
turned in my body like a fist.
They took you out, and I struggled up,
gasping. You had no name.
Everyone was busy
with the thinking and stitching,
with discussing. The man beside me
was no longer beside me. He was shaking
and fading and leaving. They took you
out of my body and ran away.
There is still no name
for the emptiness, for the numb glare
of all this rage and love.
We drag bread through a soup
of cheese and wine with long forks
tipped in our favorite colors,
a pot of fuel popping
beneath the thick dish.
Somehow supper smells
like a train yard.
Somehow that is hopeful.
We watch ourselves fill
with giddiness and departure.
Praise for "Haywire"
Rachel Contreni Flynn writes with a loving, detailed, rich, knowledge of the real life of farmland
-- Reginald Gibbons
-- Reginald Gibbons
Strangely heart-landish, awake and ablaze, Rachel Contreni Flynn’s Haywire broadcasts its corncribs, grackles, and farmhouses with an electrical urgency, as marvelous for its imaginative accuracy of vision as for its restorative depths in the wilds of human feeling. Fearlessly, and with great affection for the human spirit, these poems remind us that the “haywire” of life isn’t something that goes 100mph out of control in spite of us. Rather it’s a necessity we live by, “all this rage and love.”
-- Matt Hart
How thrilling--and rare--it is to find a poet whose second collection is even better than the first. Rachel Contreni Flynn’s terrific debut volume, Ice, Mouth, Song is electrified by jumps and the unspoken, but here the voice is calmer, steadier, and willing to stay put, to mine the local and particular for insight. Flynn is not afraid to follow