by January Gill O'Neil
The poems in January O’Neil’s Underlife offer 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. —Denise Duhamel
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
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JANUARY GILL O'NEIL is a senior writer and editor at Babson College. Her poetry and articles have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Literary Mama, Field, Callaloo, Seattle Review, Stuff Magazine, Poetry Thursday, and two Cave Canem anthologies, among others. She is a fellow with Cave Canem poets, runs a blog called Poet Mom and is cofounder and cohost of New and Emerging Writers Series (NEWS), a blossoming literary series in Arlington, Massachusetts.
I am from hush puppies & barbecue
from chitlins & fatbacks
hog maws & hog jaws & grits & scrapple.
Outside stands a dogwood tree we have let
overgrow from laziness
& a driveway cracked
with blades of grass.
I am from Rosemary & Stanley,
the last model in the series.
Around our house honeysuckle blesses the air,
seasons the heat of summer into a main dish.
I am a plum black garnish to the day.
Wafts of smoke from pots on the stove
steam the kitchen.
Salt & Pepper stand at attention
next to the potholders on the counter.
Dinner is ready—no time for parsley.