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The Mending Worm

mending_coverWinner of the 2005 Green Rose Prize in Poetry

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“Houlihan excels at capturing odd moments—”In a farther sky rain gathers,/The smell is nickel. I long to replenish, lean out like a dog, mouth sprung, tongue loose, lapping the mineral air, because I must”—but she doesn’t give us a whole world so much as a glance. And an intense, condensed, piercing, refreshingly off-kilter glance it is. Even in “History Lessons,” she travels from the “Lil’ Ice Age” to “Medieval Warming Period” in four named stanzas, nicely evoking the latter with a few deft references to velvet leg breeches, silver cups, and monks sweating over (and onto) their manuscripts. Adventuresome collections of contemporary poetry, take note: here’s a writer to watch, so be in the forefront and purchase now.”
Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

“Writers are told “make it fresh, make it new.” In The Mending Worm it’s all new. Houlihan wields language like a weapon, carving out lines that are stingingly precise.”
Ellen Wehle, West Branch

“A passionate, varied, and delightfully consumable collection.”
—Midwest Book Review

“. . . Houlihan’s exact and intricate sentences are written using a technique filled with various tactics of lyricism—alliteration, assonance, consonance, internal rhyme, deliberate rhythm, and delicate echoes of sound from line to line. Consequently, though Houlihan mostly avoids any end rhyme, her pieces are subtly just as musical.”
Edward Byrne, Editor of Valparaiso Poetry Review

“Joan Houlihan’s glistringly rewarding The Mending Worm oppositely takes acuity and intensity of feeling not as its ends, but points of departure. Houlihan’s poems pursue the trajectory of lyricism in reverse: the labor of acquiring indifference, pining for rather than transcending narcosis of feeling.”
Michael Snediker, Pleiades

“Houlihan’s work explores facets of contemporary loss and decline, letting language reveal what is deepest. …the internal components of sound within the lines, by way of assonance and consonance, which give her lines a vice-like quality. All is tight, from her startling language to patterns of sound, found consistently throughout her work.”
Tayve Neese, Web Del Sol Review of Books

“How strange and hewn and scarified these poems are! In her drive to claim the singularity of her own singed (and searing) fables, Joan Houlihan has composed a brilliant ‘black startle-box’ of oddment and truths. The Mending Worm is a book of stunning accomplishment.”
Lucie Brock-Broido

“An honest noise in the dark” (from “Why We Need Masks”) could be a metaphor for The Mending Worm itself, with its original, energetic language that confronts various shades of darkness and captures the oddness of being alive.”
Pamela Alexander, FIELD

“Joan Houlihan’s images and figures are lapidary, her diction alert and startling, her lines chiseled, their sounds echoing back and forth, and yet for all the exquisite craft in these poems, there is something terrible and wild underneath their surfaces . . . The Mending Worm gives us poems that in their art and authenticity render whole that which has been shattered. Read them and you will see.”
Fred Marchant

Online review from Valparaiso Poetry Review

Online review at Web del Sol Review of Books

Poems Online

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