Third Place Books welcomes local poet Jeannine Hall Gailey for a reading of her new poetry collection, Flare, Corona, in which she is incandescent and tender-hearted, gracefully insistent on teaching us all of the ways that we can live, all of the ways in which we can refuse to do anything but to brilliantly and stubbornly survive. This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required in advance.
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Gailey deftly juxtaposes odd solar and weather events with the medical disasters occurring inside her own brain and body— we follow her through a false-alarm terminal cancer diagnosis, a real diagnosis of MS, and finally the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The solar flare and corona of an eclipse becomes the neural lesions in her own personal “flare,” which she probes with both honesty and humor. While the collection features harbingers of calamity, visitations of wolves, blood moons, apocalypses, and plagues, at the center of it all are the poet’s attempts to navigate a fraught medical system, dealing with a series of challenging medical revelations, some of which are mirages and others that are all too real.
“Who knew the apocalypse could be so fun? Jeannine Hall Gailey, that’s who. Our trenchant speaker, who ‘wrote a nuclear winter poem when I was seven,’ now in mid-life finds herself smack dab in the eye of a perfect storm: a mistaken terminal cancer diagnosis resolves itself into an MS diagnosis accessorized with a coronavirus crown. Yet these poems are deeply life-affirming, filled with foxes and fairytales and fig trees. Flare, Corona is a surprising, skilled, and big-hearted book.”
—Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs and Poet Laureate of Mississippi
“Everything really is connected is what I kept thinking as I read Jeannine Hall Gailey’s Flare,Corona. In it, the ecological crisis we face is felt in the marrow of the body, and ‘chronic illness’ becomes a phrase to characterize not only a human condition but our global one. Yet Hall Gailey faces personal and societal illness with characteristic deep feeling and humor, and I was struck by the search for hope and optimism undergirding these inviting, image-rich poems: ‘Look to the future—perhaps that glow you see isn’t fire, but sunrise.’”
—Dana Levin, author of Now You Do Know Where You Are
“The milieu of Flare, Corona, is at once literal and metaphorical: what blooms in the water and soil of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, ultimately blooms in the bodies of those who grew up there. This collection effortlessly toggles between what feels endangered in the macro-political scale of contemporary American society, and in the micro-medical reality of our speaker: ‘My first flare came on the week of the solar eclipse / when the shadow fell cold over us, and the birds stopped singing.’ What’s astonishing about this collection is how the poet showcases her trademark dark humor and vivid hyperbole—all the while pulling the reader in close to consider, frankly and with earned insight, the experience of chronic illness. Crafty uses of parallel structure and self-portraiture elevate personal narratives into poems that will outlive any apocalypse. This is an immersive, terrific read.”
—Sandra Beasley, author of Made to Explode
“We all have bodies that we know will fail on us, and we live in a world we know is riven by troubles. But how few of us really reckon with the body’s—and the body politic’s—failures until disaster strikes—for us or for a loved one. Flare, Corona is full of these dark facts, as Jeannine Hall Gailey grapples with her own illness and with an America, maybe a world, that seems to be falling apart. Yet in poem after full, fast, lush poem, Gailey keeps turning disaster into light, not at all to falsify the very real darkness, but to turn ethical, engaged attention to what is. This book is full of a life insisting on its own richness, carried out in spite of what can’t be avoided.”
—Daisy Fried, author of The Year the City Emptied
Jeannine Hall Gailey is a poet with multiple sclerosis who served as the 2nd Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She's the author of six books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the Elgin Award, and her latest, Flare, Corona from BOA Editions. She has a B.S. in Biology and M.A. in English from the University of Cincinnati and an MFA from Pacific University. Her work appeared in The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry. Her website is www.webbish6.com.
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