Marisa CrawfordBIG BROWN BAG

Gazing Grain Press, 2015

by Jen Fitzgerald on November 3, 2015

Marisa Crawford

Winner of the Gazing Grain 2015 Chapbook contest, BIG BROWN BAG by Marisa Crawford is our final Chapbookapalooza installment. And what a way to end a glorious month of celebrating this small form.

Set within the behind-the-scenes confines a fictional department store that rings true as a multitude of department stores, Crawford brings us an inner monologue in conversation. Does this seem counterintuitive? Think of the way we engage with society and community. Think of the struggles we endure to locate ourselves within and without those groups.

"Goody's" is less setting than state of being.

There is a long history of poets as cultural critics, poets as clear, focused lens and Crawford has learn to trust her subjectivity or at least quiet her mind enough to understand it. Her speaker grapples with the things we need to do in order to survive while remaining clear-headed about boundaries and priorities. By internalizing criticism, the world I processed in bits and pieces.

The poems have a colloquial ease that the trained reader knows as hard-won. The content leaps fuse together through the life of the poem and of the collection.

Who do we call out to when we are the only person in the room who understands our perfectly human and flawed selves? Or is it the duty of the poet-as-observer to issue warnings against what we have been enacting on each other for millennia…

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