Saint of the Partial Apology–Melissa Atkinson Mercer

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In Melissa Atkinson Mercer’s Saint of the Partial Apology, I’ve rediscovered the terrifying pleasures of awe, of limbs that part like orchids in black rain, of maps made from wolves’ feet, of “the white church of the rabbit’s jaw.” I’ve discovered the most tender rage in these pages, but here, here Mercer also offers a dark and certain light to bury myself in. These poems want to confound you, and you should let them. Enjoy their witch-dark and loose miracles. This book is a lostness worthy of every pilgrim. ~Traci Brimhall, author of Our Lady of the Ruins and Saudade

A wash of gorgeous sound and imagery (“winged horses shuddering in my soon-severed throat”), the poems in Melissa Atkinson Mercer’s Saint of the Partial Apology deliver part confessional, transformation, myth and story. Enter a dark pastoral inhabited by wild women, hags, gorgons, fishwives, Medusa, prophetesses, witches, saints, sea monsters and (so close to our hearts) mothers who might stay or leave their children to the wolves. “I’ve named my monsters,” the poems’ narrator says; she’s a “miracle girl on her knees in the mud” and “the woman/who could be a thousand women//the woman who took /every miracle she could.” These fierce poems are pieces of a heart balancing between finding its own way, traversing memory and architecting a different future: “So many words mean wait, my mother says.” Truly, Saint of the Partial Apology showcases a poet whose work is ritual, and is necessary and vital: “what woman does not want the earth she has forged?” This collection of poems must be simply savored and re-read. ~Nicole Rollender, author of Louder Than Everything You Love and Ghost Tongue

Filled with imagistic meditation on generation and inheritance both physical and emotional, Mercer ’s poems haunt as they declare: “Believe me, I understand that we are the sieve through which the years move.” Melissa Atkinson Mercer’s Saint of the Partial Apology thrums with the rhythms of earth and bone, bread and blood, witch and mother, wolf and whale, the voice of the natural world and the melody of the wild-throated heart. ~Donna Vorreyer, author of Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story and A House of Many Windows

Melissa Atkinson Mercer’s debut full-length collection suspends the readers in a lyrical masterpiece soaked in the music of acute revelations and elegant storytelling. These poems are a sudden riptide, roots pulling light like prayers, creating an astonishing backdrop for Mercer’s piercing insight that wonders even as it rebuilds the miracle of a frail yet hopeful humankind. With a language that, like memory, both fractures and restores, Saint of the Partial Apology unravels its power with a unique finesse and beauty. It is a body of work that is sprawling and generous with its wisdom and staggering imagination. A must read. ~Shinjini Bhattacharjee, author of In My Landscape, I Am Not Real

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