Sonically vivid, as empire and climate fall into catastrophe, these poems open portals where the living and the dead find one another in new communication.
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From Shelley Memorial Award Winner Gillian Conoley, Notes from the Passenger reminds us how with increased gun violence, war, plague, white supremacy, we are no longer “in control.” We are no longer drivers; we are passengers—destination unknown. Arriving like missives from a bardic journey, these poems explore how system collapse has led to a new space-time continuum. These cinematic, linguistically vibrant poems seek new order beyond division, within catastrophe and joy, written on the edge of being.
Gillian Conoley’s Notes from the Passenger reads as if written “in an aura of intimacy,” intimacy with the daughter, the lover, the reader, the dead, and with the spirit, sometimes called God, sometimes called “the messenger.” In wide-open poems that expose the junk and the beauty of the material world, the violence and the grace within the social, Conoley embraces “mortality…with its rosy edge of want” while catapulting toward the infinite, what she calls the “next next world.”
The collection’s title captures its duality: we follow the journey of the “passenger,” while the act of note-taking—reliant on layers of language—remains at the surface. Conoley engages the materiality of words, at times playfully riffing and dreaming in allusions