Underlife by January Gill O’Neil, Publication Date: December 2009
Price: $16.00; ISBN: 1-9-33880-16-3; ISBN: 978-1-933880-16-7
Distributed by: University Press of New England (UPNE), 1-800-421-1561 or 603-448-1533, Ext. 255
Also available at other fine booksellers.
Visit these local booksellers to purchase a signed copy of Underlife:
Grolier Poetry Book Store
Porter Square Books
Harvard Book Store
In her debut collection, Underlife, January Gill O’Neil begins with a declaration of self rooted in home and family, and the ordinary tropes of childhood—fireflies, the schoolyard, and the daily rituals of our domestic lives. Yet this is no nostalgic portrait of bygone days. The smooth narrative surface of these poems gives way to gritty subjects—the underlife—where cruelties are commonplace, both given and received; where a child not only witnesses but also touches a parent’s despair; where kinds of abuse fasten a yoke of longing and inheritance upon a daughter. As James Baldwin has written: This is the only concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.
O’Neil offers masterfully complex portraits of childhood—both through the speaker’s memory and observations of her own children. She writes equally well about sex, marriage, rural life, and the suburbs with candid observations and evocative imagery. O’Neil’s collection is substantial, playful, and compassionate—even when dealing with difficult themes such as alcoholism and racism. Her narrative threads take surprising and enigmatic leaps, yet are always clear, accessible, wonderfully real.
“In those places where we keep our childhoods and our children are all the magnificent and malicious ingredients of our lives. In her first collection, January Gill O’Neil praises life with a subtle wisdom wrapped inside the most delicious language. Underlife is an exact eloquence, an excellent beginning.”
—Afaa Michael Weaver
Virtual Blog Tour stops for Underlife
Kelli Russell Agodon :: Book of Kells
Donna Vorreyer :: Put Words Together. Make Meaning
Joseph Harker :: Naming Constellations
Sarah J. Sloat :: The Rain in My Purse
Wanda McCollar :: Piping of Plenty
Carolee Sherwood :: Carolee Sherwood