As if guided by William Matthew’s “Love needs to be set alight again and again,” Pat Mottola’s physical and memorable poems cause us to remember people who might otherwise be forgotten. By describing women who wear red fish net stockings and men who buy them drinks, she reclaims ordinary lives by showing how people are all looking for some form of human contact. Particularly moving are poems about her mother who never “caught up to Gloria Steinem or Betty Friedan” and her father who fought in WWII and “could not escape the stench of Auschwitz.” Throughout Under the Red Dress, Mottola’s love of her subjects darts in and out, slippery as the fish caught by her fishmonger, a Vietnam vet with PTSD. Pat Mottola’s poems will help keep the human fire alive as long as there is breath to sustain it because of her hard won knowledge that what will endure is the human heart and that love’s power can redeem even those returning from war in jungles and labeled “damaged goods.”
~Vivian Shipley, author of The Poet and Perennial
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