Every Glittering Chimera

Blue Light Press, © 2019

Blue Light Press, © 2019

The chimera, that mythic female monster, an amalgam of lion, serpent, and goat, that has come to signify the impossible illusion, haunts Rosalind Brenner's debut collection, but she does not wince at the notion of looking hard at the seeming negatives and positives of life’s journey, working as she does to transform the poisons of this encountered world into the energy of enlightened awareness. And journey we do across time and locale, from mid-century Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, where ‘chickens squawk in Grandma’s backyard,’ to the contemporary. Every Glittering Chimera tells the story of being a woman in America through the lens of the personal.

Published in 2019 by Blue Light Press.

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“Rosalind Brenner, in her fine and brave debut collection, Every Glittering Chimera, takes on the difficulties of loving when the models for such are dysfunctional.  These are the poems of a survivor of family life, someone who wishes to ‘return memory to its grave,’ and in so doing presents the struggles of becoming oneself, a cathartic journey forged by honesty and made beautiful by art.”
—Stephen Dunn, winner of Pulitzer Prize in poetry for Different Hours
and the Academy Award in Literature from The American Academy of Arts & Letters

“In her lovely collection, Rosalind Brenner chronicles an intense and wrenching history involving parental struggles, a troubled marriage, children, divorce, revival, love, and the challenges of caring for an aging mother. Along the way, she vividly paints the flux in nature—seasons, gardens, blossoms, birds, cicadas, turtles, snakes, deer—even as ‘the clock moves into dark too early.’ While acknowledging personal and political strife, she also heeds the wind that ‘rattles the bone necklace on the shrine,’ and strives, in Buddhist fashion, ‘to find a way to break / the bars I built myself.’ Throughout this quest, evocations of sorrow and joy, loss and renewal blaze forth in many a line that “lifts like a ruby finch against a cobalt sky.”
—Stephen Massimilla, author of The Plague Doctor in His Hull-Shaped Hat

“Many of Rosalind Brenner’s poems begin and end as questions. They are graceful, craft-wisely written challenges: how to integrate the lost, how to forgive ourselves and one another? The path, down and up, which these poems ask us to walk is a companioned call. Every Glittering Chimera is not about 100% redemption, no ‘happily ever after’ included.  Brenner is quite clear about this in her work: in this life, 50% is damn good—dance if it’s 80%, to make up for all the missing percentages of our lives. Brenner uses the bridge (metaphor) to carry her readers across from one chimera to solid ground, and back again! She writes, with a painterly eye, about shadow, the play of light, and a felt-determination to unmask and shine the flash of her language upon every page. As in ‘religio,’ the chimera is a matter of return: soul to ligament, spirit to body, there—in the here and now.”
—Kate Knapp Johnson is the author of three collections of poetry and teaches in the Graduate and Undergraduate Writing Programs at Sarah Lawrence College

“In a cadence now urgent, now zen-like, now vehement, now celebratory, Rosalind Brenner’s poems examine the spectrum of loss, motherhood, solitude, companionship, uneasy alliances, and a joy that teeters at times on the rim of despair. Contradictions meet in “the realm/where form is born.” Her words touch the living earth in a seasoned voice that dares to strip itself down to tuber and root. Brenner pines for a return of her “fugitive beauty” while boldly facing “the litter of {my} history.” This is a book where the polyphonic, protean and always female Chimera alternately keens and sings.”
—Deborah DiNicola, author of Original Human, Where Divinity Begins and The Future That Brought Her Here

“Brenner’s Every Glittering Chimera introduces a speaker who is ‘dual and scattered,’ combining poems in the persona of the chimera  (the fire this chimera exhales is equal parts hopeful and angry) with poems that are more directly autobiographical. In each guise, Brenner sees both sides, noting that after her grandmother slaughters a chicken, she ‘draws from a pocket / in her wide bloody apron / a peppermint, red and white like the tablecloth.’”
—Matthea Harvey, author of If the Tabloids Are True What Are You?

 “Every Glittering Chimera is a collection filled with the drama of human experience and the various emotions that are brought to the surface of a world made richer in every poem. And each poem is a self-discovery that takes place in the Brooklyn of the poet's past or near the shores of her present on Eastern Long Island. In between these two physical locales, her journey unfolds with deep emotional awareness that is rendered in clear, concise language. Brenner's images are haunting, tender and always recognizable since the journey she is on is often our journey too.”
—Kevin Pilkington, author of The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree

“With a sharp eye for the resonant details and images of the world, and with a sharp wit and honed voice, Rosalind Brenner’s Every Glittering Chimera is a deeply human and humane book that explores the mystery and riddle of our lives.”
—Stuart Dischell, author of Dig Safe and Children with Enemies

“A life is a messy thing, but Rosalind Brenner’s Every Glittering Chimera orders the chaotic beast, giving body and heart to deceased parents, ex-spouses, and a flurry of friends, lovers, and children. But this is not a book solely about the dead and the living. These poems celebrate splendor in all its manifestations—art, music, and especially nature with its beauty queens, heroes and villains. And then there are those guests from that other world, illusions and fantasies that appear and disappear throughout these poems, creating an uncertainty so tangible, the reader can’t help but believe the truth they reflect.”
—Peter E. Murphy, founder of Murphy Writing of Stockton University

“How to live in this world, caught between the sacred and the profane? The material world is a veil -- many-faced, an ever-shifting illusion -- tempting and rewarding and brutal and empty, in and of itself irresistible but pursued on its own, a hollow mask lacking aperture to the larger truths of the spiritual domain. And the spiritual world? An elusive thing, orgasmic, unconfined, not of the body, but nowhere if our pursuit of it is merely self-absorption or a denial of material existence. ‘Nowhere isn’t emptiness, it’s nothing,’ intones the inquiring persona in this marvelous and organically coherent book of poems by Rosalind Brenner, which asks us to be drawn in and listen deeply to the musings and meditations of one human being in the middle of and aware of the human absurdity. A walk at old Fort Totten demonstrates that there is no proof of solid existence. A pink Spalding bought at the candy store around the corner is a memory that, like her father’s herculean fist or her mother’s wrist thrust deep in a white mound of Crisco lard, must be returned to the grave. Yet a retreat from the material?

‘It would be cool to be a nun. But the scent
of spare ribs roasting on the barbeque tempts me,
as do my man’s attentions..,’

This is poetry that is unmistakably in possession of the syncretistic impulse – a poetry which recognizes the dualistic nature of the human world, and the need to reconcile ourselves to this unenviable place we inhabit between the sacred and the profane. There is nothing facile or deceptive in that, no posturing or pride of instant karma, no suggestion that there is quick fix, purchasable at the spiritual candy store. The quest is hard and confusing work. And yet. “I am dual and scattered, but I like this tapestry,” she intones.  Here we have a voice of luminous insight and humility, stood before the great question of existence, steadfast in its stumbling forward, intent on its pursuit of the truth behind the veil, and yet yielding before the unquenchable enticement of the veil itself. If there is a grail to be had in all this going, it is a grail which demands we approach it with candor and humility, and give in to its largeness and oceanic mystery – for the ocean to rise, sweep us out to sea, and return us to the land, broken of our constant quest for nothing that satisfies.”
—George Wallace, Writer in residence, Walt Whitman Birthplace

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