Poetry. Paper, Perfect Bound. 82 pages
2015, ISBN: 978-1-936419-52-4 $15.95 + S&H
A butterfly casts the shadow of a man; a homesick mermaid cleans teeth; a young girl pushes a heavy iron, singing. In Alloy, these and others (daughter, mother, astronaut; an occasional zombie or alien) find voice through poems exploring memory in all its shifting sense and purpose: from childhood recollection to adult reckoning, from folklore and fairytale to family relationships. Bottiglieri’s poems live in large moments and small, in the shimmering balance between grieving and consolation, between loss and what comes after. How do our memories—of our keenest pleasures, our deepest losses, our daily miracles, of the people we love and the stories we tell ourselves—shape our sense of self, or teach us how to move through the world? How do they build us, strengthen us, make us more than what we are?
Praise for Jan Bottiglieri’s work:
What a pleasure to read this most engaging and ingenious voice. With irresistible precision, Jan Bottiglieri’s poems both record and transform the everyday where it means most. That is plenty, but then she also hits you with poems that look hard at what can be hard to look at. The accessible manner is deceptive. You will read these poems more than once.
— Marvin Bell
Alloy by Jan Bottiglieri is gigantic! The sky of her wondering is wide. You can open this book to a zombie apocalypse, Pinocchio in middle age, or poems pure as parables about everyday life and death. Like fables of love and loss, these poems are tender and hard. Whether she’s writing about a half-mermaid dental hygienist or the death of her own father, mother, or brother, this book is about the heart, the little and big breaks. The whole of life hums in the bones of these poems. Jan Bottiglieri is simply one of the best, and this book is the test of it.
— Chris Green, author of Resumé and Epiphany School
The past is never where you think you left it, writes Katherine Ann Porter, and this stunning first collection proves it. With a keen and unflinching eye, Jan Bottiglieri’s Alloy recovers personal history and memory from the most unexpected places: in the daily acts of ironing a father’s handkerchief or baking a mother’s kolacky; in the worlds of fairy tale, myth, and aliens; and in the mundane—a button, a butterfly, a laser machine, a broken lawn mower. Every poem in this book could be an elegy or a love poem to life itself—for what else is life if not an amalgam of loves and losses, of dreams and waking, of remembrance and forgetting? If poetry is a stay against oblivion, then Bottiglieri’s poems are precious alloys that fuse her narrative and lyrical gifts with limitless imagination and largesse of compassion, so that not only does the past resist corrosion, but shines with a fierce, untarnished brilliance. Here are poems that affirm the life gigantic by the supreme poetic act of looking closely—at something simple as, say, an apple: Inside I will find / the star / unseen. / . . . star- / flower / memory, petal bones, / in white, dark / seeds. Brava!
— Angela Narciso Torres, author of Blood Orange, 2013 Willow Books grand prize winner
The past is alloy, gigantic
There was a motorcycle – cobalt blue
plastic, about 16 inches high, white handlebars.
My son rode it, a mad abandon, clacking
in our basement, down the sidewalk, no engine
but the legs he used to have, attached
to the body he used to have, small and milk-stuffed.
Where are you going? I’d ask, folding laundry.
I’m going to see my old mommy. This was the ’90s:
what did we have then? Chlorofluorocarbons,
Apple IIs. It was hip-hop’s Golden Age.
He called it “mugger-cycle.” His riding was a sea.
This was a long time ago, to him and me.
The past is alloy, gigantic. Nothing goes away.
Everything is somewhere, my old mother
used to say. Your windbreaker did not grow legs
and walk off by itself. I went back to the park:
there it was, pockets stuffed with seedpods
I’d gathered, a finite universe. Bee-velvet,
the twitching rabbit I’d stalked: that was that day.
I already carried the cells that would be my son.
Petroleum waited beneath that Earth to become
the plastic; before that, as algae – leafless, Paleozoic –
it drank sun, that simple ardor. It could never
not be. Like boy, body, jacket, riding, sea.
About Jan Bottiglieri
Jan Bottiglieri’s poems have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies including Harpur Palate, Court Green, Bellevue Literary Review, Rattle and Sunrise From Blue Thunder. Her chapbook Where Gravity Pools the Sugar was published in 2013. She is a freelance writer and editor living in suburban Chicago, and serves as managing editor for the literary annual RHINO. Visit her website at janbottiglieri.com.