Sitting on my desk right now, asking for attention more ardently than any of the other chores I ought to be doing—such as my own writing, or, for example, this blog—are these two beautiful books of poetry. They have some things in common. Both writers are women, both write an eloquent lyric line, and both are past editors of this very magazine.
Susan R. Williamson, while she still lived in Charlottesville, was the editor in chief of Streetlight for two years when it was still a print magazine. Roselyn Elliott was the co-editor for poetry of the final print issue. Bias admission: I worked with both these editors in those days, first as a contributor and later as an editor myself. However, my praise for these books is not simply a connection to the pleasure I experienced working with these women. I had already known them as fine poets. Therefore, seeing this work in print has a double resonance, the gratification of seeing friends succeed, and the satisfaction of seeing in print their wonderful poetry.
Susan Williamson, in addition to past glories at Streetlight, has also served on committees for the Virginia Festival of the Book and The Charlottesville Writing Center. She has been a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts fellow, and whew, holds a BA in French Language and Literature from the University of Virginia and an MFA from New England College. She is now, our loss being their gain, Director of the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, itself an amazing event, well worth looking into. Her book is Burning After Dark, a slim collection of indeed burning poems, many of which have already seen print in such magazines as The Connecticut Review, Crab Orchard Review, and The Virginia Quarterly.
Roselyn Elliott is a master essayist as well a much published poet and teacher, with work having appeared in The Cumberland River Review, ABRAXAS, Diode, among others, and guess what, Streetlight Magazine. This is her fourth chapbook. She has taught at Virginia Commonwealth University, Piedmont Virginia Community College, The Visual Art Center of Richmond, Virginia, and WriterHouse, here in Charlottesville, before she too deserted us for parts greener.
Both these women write with a vigor and precision for detail which is astounding. Their work, while being deeply personal, is also remarkable in its consciousness and a sure relationship to the greater world, a seeing and feeling for the universal within the particular. There is pain and longing in both of these small books, but also a deep and sharp enjoyment for the sheer sense of being alive. Reading these books will enrich your life. I promise that, I really do.
Burning After Dark, winner of the Hannah Kahn Poetry Foundation 25th Anniversary Chapbook Competition, is available from Amazon.com. You can find Ghost of the Eye for sale at the website for Finishing Line Press, its publisher.
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