by Henrietta Goodman
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Pub Date 01 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 29 Feb 2024
University of Nebraska Press, The Backwaters Press
The title poem of this collection refers to the phantom island of Antillia, included on maps in the fifteenth century but later found not to exist. The ghosts that haunt this collection are phantom islands, moon lakes, lasers used to clean the caryatids at the Acropolis, earlier versions of the self, suicides, a madam from the Old West, petroleum, snapdragons, pets, ice apples, Casper, and a “resident ghost” who makes the domestic realm of “the cradle and the bed” uninhabitable. The ghosts are sons, fathers “asleep in front of the TV,” and a variety of exes—“lost boys” with names like The Texan and Mr. No More Cowboy Hat whom Henrietta Goodman treats with snarky wit but also with grief, guilt, and love.
Although memories pervade this collection, these poems also look forward and outward into a world where social inequality and environmental disaster meet the possibility of metamorphosis.
“Henrietta Goodman’s is a poetry of testament, an ‘inventory of scars,’ a mosaic of shards and sorrows, a symphony whose movements straddle innocence and experience, whose cinematic cross-cutting of gutting images provides evidence of a wise spirit bruised yet irrepressible. Antillia gestures toward a taxing history of embodied travails, of ice apples, and ghosts, a lived terrain where Goodman sees ‘everything/trying to divide yet stay attached/at the root.’ Here’s a voice gritty, delicate, resilient, raw, a speaker with a handsaw who’s ‘no one’s wife and no one’s martyr,’ instead ‘a gasping head on a platter/of water’ whose eyes cast floodlights on the ‘Forty billion poison gallons/the geese see from air and mistake for a safe place.’ Savvy to feel gifted when the “ground is finally thawed enough to bury the dead”; brilliant to define ‘Happiness: the underside of a dried starfish,’ Goodman reminds us that a child can be ‘made of nothing,’ and that a single word can birth a shattered world of loss and misunderstanding in which we nevertheless abide.”—Katrina Roberts, author of Likeness
“Henrietta Goodman’s Antillia is a collection of searching lyric poems that remember, joke, free associate, interrogate, worry, and examine the roots of words in pursuit of sense or solace. The world depicted is one of potential chaos and harm, though a quest for love, joy, and understanding has not been abandoned. In one Proustian meditation, the smell of Windex conjures memories of the speaker’s grade school crush, yet further consideration yields recollections of a Cold War-era bomb shelter. The bewildered (or sardonic) speaker asks, ‘Windex leads to Martin leads to beauty leads to bomb?’ The volume’s title suggests that a new world might be accessed, though at present it’s more myth than fact. These aesthetically impressive poems stun with their vigor, candor, and wit.”—Christopher Brean Murray, author of Black Observatory: Poems
“‘In the South, everything bites / and f*cks and pretends not to,’ Henrietta Goodman writes in one of her trademark poems that are alive and daring and nervy: all heart and smarts, no pretense. We’re so fortunate to have this new book, which moves from lovers to sons to metaphorical-real lakes to a fancy cowboy bar’s ‘ropes / of neon acrylic squeezed straight from the tube’ to fine art to stinging truths—insisting on loving and facing head-on a world that keeps failing and falling.”—Alexandra Teague, author of Or What We’ll Call Desire