Seven Miles Deep–Pamela Garvey

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Pam Garvey’s exceptional book Seven Miles Deep is a catalogue of damages described with great precision, honesty, bravery, and beauty. Just as Akhmatova said Yes, I can, when asked if she could describe the outrages of her time, Garvey casts an unflinching gaze on the sufferings, many self-inflicted, of our own time. Like an insect’s compound organ of vision—a powerful metaphor that carries light and the shock of truth through these wonderful poems—Garvey’s book has “one hundred eyes without a lid to shut.”

—Patrick Donnelly, author of The Charge and Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin

In Seven Miles Deep Pamela Garvey writes of scientists who plumb the Pacific to film the strange creatures that swim in the bottommost dark. “This is the light I hold to my son, // to my dead,” she writes. With something like the compound eye of the wasp made up of “one / hundred eyes without a lid / to shut out the light,” Garvey investigates her own species in her first full collection of poems. What she finds in the trenches of marriage, illness, parenting, and war is often troubling, though there’s a trove for readers found in the depths of insight her poetry offers. For years I have admired Pamela Garvey’s keen intelligence and lyric gift. I would follow this writer wherever she delves.

—Allison Funk, author of Wonder Rooms

Pam Garvey’s Seven Miles Deep is a poetic Bayeux Tapestry of imagery that treks forward through an interwoven, contiguous narrative flushed out by just enough angst to make it a little wild. But the Look is not enough for Garvey who orchestrates dissonant constructs and varied rhythms with an affect as inspiring as the most unencumbered moments of Plath while imbued with the factual lush of Marianne Borusch. These poems struggle with a sense of their own tradition, simultaneously performing and yet upsetting the narrative, at times talky, lyric. I am struck by the courage of her interrogative, What did the Virgin know …? With what hands have you strength enough …? Who created God? Who grabs a meat cleaver / to sever hair? I am encouraged by this collection and see that craft still lives in these chiseled poems. We find in this book the coil’s forward momentum of “Marriage” and yet the hush, hush, hush of “Pain Tolerance,” a transposition of hard and soft that says much of the way these poems, even in their balance, thwart expectations.

—Ruth Ellen Kocher, winner of the PEN/Open Book Award

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