MISERY ISLANDS by January Gill O’Neil
Publication Date: November 2014
Price: $16.00; ISBN: 978-1-933880-46-4
Distributed by: University Press of New England (UPNE), 800-421-1561 or 603-448-1533, Ext. 255
In her remarkable second book of poems, January Gill O’Neil bravely explores some difficult territory: the world of underpaid and under-appreciated labor, women and their bodies in various states of illness and discovery, the painful process of divorce and its aftermath. But for all the fierce reality, with its attendant grief and occasional anger, there is no lasting misery in Misery Islands. In addition to the pleasures that leap forth at unexpected moments and the “silver linings” of divorce that are the poet’s children, O’Neil’s vivid language and beautifully structured poems make Misery Islands a joy to read.
January O'Neil candidly writes about family, exploring the weight of child-rearing, of single-motherhood, of love, and in doing so penetrates the exquisiteness of the everyday while also highlighting the challenges of living as artist and mother. What she demonstrates: “how to cleave the spaces in between bone/ and never spill a drop.” Indeed, there is fine balance of imagery and story and song that makes this a fine collection to own, to read back one's own solitariness, one's own joy.