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Resurrection Party: Poems

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"Resurrection Party" is a poetry collection that concerns itself, almost to the point of obsession, with the question of how the imagination grapples with the fear of death. The collection intertwines religious and mythical subjects and themes with more fleshly concerns about the body and decay, presence and absence. It has been described as containing poems of "almost exquisite refinement, illuminated by the taut glow of sensuous prosody and imagery" and as "a deeply meditative collection at once intelligent, tender, and utterly human."

"Michalle Gould's poems are a study in beautiful paradox-their meticulously crafted structures serve as containers for the wilderness that resides within. Their terrain is somewhere between body and spirit, life and death, intimacy and solitude, elegance and intuition. Possessing a sly humor coupled with a laser sharp awareness and assertion of how all is ephemeral, Resurrection Party accomplishes the rare: it makes even the big questions fresh." Louise Mathias, author of "The Traps" and "Lark Apprentice"

"Michalle Gould has been writing poems for years, and the long wait for her first book is finally over. In "Resurrection Party," she intertwines the ancient and classic with the modern and popular, the sacred with the profane. The result is a deeply meditative collection at once intelligent, tender, and utterly human." Hayan Charara, author of "The Alchemist's Diary" and "The Sadness of Others"

"Michalle Gould's "Resurrection Party" feels like wandering the wondrous caverns of a strange museum in the nighttime quiet. Again and again, we encounter poems of an almost exquisite refinement, illuminated by the taut glow of sensuous prosody and imagery, and yet there is a thrilling queerness there, a trembling corporeal hunger. The body, its potential for ecstasy, is deeply connected to these pageants of resurrection. Gould writes, 'To be human is to be like a cloud chalked in the sky . . .' Such whimsy, such recreation, stalks the heavy, sometimes biblical landscape where so many narratives of what it is to be human unfold. In "Resurrection Party," Gould invites us to play there, to imagine, to fall into our graves and rise again, over and over. And at this party, we get to be different every time." Michelle Detorie, author of "After-Cave"

74 pages, Paperback

First published August 17, 2014

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About the author

Michalle Gould

3 books16 followers
Michalle Gould recently moved to Hollywood to work as a librarian, after living in Central Texas for several years. Her first full-length collection of poetry, "Resurrection Party," was published in August 2014 by Silver Birch Press, a small independent press located in Los Angeles. Poems from the collection have been published in Poetry, Slate, New England Review, American Literary Review and other journals. Another poem is in the process of being developed into a short film as part of the Motionpoems series. Other writing has been published in The Texas Observer, online in McSweeneys, and in many other journals. She also writes fiction and is currently researching and writing a novel set in the north of England in the 1930's.

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews
Profile Image for Noelle Walsh.
1,172 reviews62 followers
December 11, 2014
This collection of poems was really good. It is definitely worth reading for fans of poetry and for those interested in poetry.

*won on GoodReads First Reads*
Profile Image for McKenzie Tozan.
83 reviews4 followers
July 17, 2017
We all have such differing definitions and expectations of grief. When asked to define grief, love, beauty, we often begin to play a game of word association, or we resort to metaphors and personification. Pain and sorrow. My heart hurts. It’s like a well that never fills up.

But when I think about grief… my mind becomes a conflicted torrent of the difficult and the mundane, the ugly and the beautiful. Why, you may ask? Shouldn’t grief be a non-gray construct?

No, it shouldn’t.

Because grief is achieved through memories; we are overwhelmed with grief when someone dies, because we loved them. We hurt, because we remember mistakes and regrets, happiness and love. In a way, grief, after a time, becomes a celebration. (That’s why grief is given stages.) We aren’t meant to live in sadness forever. We should hurt, but we should also remember, and in that we can often find solace.

Michalle Gould combats this disjunction of celebration through poems that have been a long time coming. In over ten years’ worth of work, Gould establishes what it can mean to grieve, and even why we grieve, while similarly associating with love, death and relationships. These seem, on the surface, to be such broad, winding concepts—and they certainly can be—but they are so interconnected with grief in these poems that they become entirely necessary to grief’s existence: without something to cherish, there would be nothing to miss. And this concept is so unthinkable and perfectly complicated through Gould’s use of imagistic language and metaphor, traditionalist qualities and hints of religion. There is so much to love about these poems and their truthful nature… these are just a few points I’d love to discuss.

These poems are largely unparalleled in their beauty and ability to transform an image. Not only does Gould do wonderful work in selecting words well, but the images that are generated through them, and the abstractions, are astounding. This is fitting, too, because of the complexity of the over-arching concepts: a complicated concept is due a complicated writerly method to mirror it and to lend insight to the page. Constantly, I continue to return to Gould’s poem, “When I Was Naked,” which I feel performs such a thorough transformation of ideas through image:


I was the sturdy bowl of plums half-buried in snow
outside the artist’s studio. He paints the shades of purple
reflected in condensed water on my skin.

I was the snowy hill topped by a nun’s black habit,
a fall of dark hair descending to wintry shoulders,
an infinite stretch of icy skin.

My body was a mystery. The anatomist
touched his scalpel to the edge of my jaw,
opened his sketchpad and drew back my skin.

The courtesan in Osaka tried something new, trimmed away leaves,
stem, floated me—denuded lily—in a stone bowl full of milk.
A day later, the bowl was scattered petals on a blue-white skin.

A vine is a humble creeping thing, but clustered in boastful fruit.
We called to the artist, “I am emerald! I am amethyst!”
until some wild animal left us naked, eating only our skin.

In a cemetery, a mole tunneled back and forth between the graves,
extended blind fingers, knew before any scientist,
the last to go is hair. The first is skin.

This poem has continued to be one of my favorites of Gould’s, first for the first, third and fourth stanzas, but also for the transformation of the narrator’s physicality, as well as the transformation of skin, as separate entities. While we see the narrator transform through abstractions, which might suggest physical maturation, and the length, vulnerability and mortality of our skin, which reminds me not only of the entirety of our mortality, but the constantly looming possibility of a life ending and grief repeating.

As if this transformation of images and ideas were not enough—throughout many poems in the collection, mind you—there is also the integration of elements of the tradition, as well as religion or the sublime. While we may view the poems that are imitating traditional forms, or traditional language, as ghost-forms or “influence poems,” these elements invite traditionalist language in a way that invites thoughts of immortality on the page—and a continued conversation between published writers. By employing a particular form—even only a ghost-form, or certain sentiments of a form—it calls back to those writers who regularly employed these forms, and often employed them well. This speaks, too, to the presence of religion or the sublime in a poem, the constant reaching out to the supernatural or immortal, which may take us back to those poets who performed this same search, such as Keats. So as a sort of meta-commentary, then, in a series of poems that are already focusing on grief as a process, we may not only reach the point of celebrating those we’ve lost, but we may also celebrate previous writers by employing their forms or engaging with similar topics.

Michalle Gould has done something wonderful here by way of grief: she has reminded us of the stages involved in the grieving process, and how that can eventually lead to a time of celebration—both, with our loved ones, and with our best-loved writers. In exploring and employing the transformation of language, image and idea, we are constantly on our tiptoes, considering how one image can become the next—such as a sturdy bowl of plums to a snowy hill—as well as the use and adaptation of forms, these poems are lovely explorations of change. This is a collection that I can easily read multiple times, always be surprised, and find something new that I loved… and I highly recommend that you try out the same journey.
Profile Image for Linda.
Author 1 book73 followers
January 18, 2015
Goodreads First Reads

Michalle Gould definitely knows what she is writing about. I have no idea what kind of death she has experienced but she definitely knows what a resurrection is. Regardless my dislike (or more precisely my inability to like) some of the poems, I did feel the point of view of an insider in the text. And that is something that one can achieve when writing about something she is sure of, not just combining nice sounding phrases. By the way, 'nice' is not the word I would use for describing these poems. You can find deep revelations about humans and our ways of perception (On the Potential Appearance of Resurrection, Untitled, Revelation by Fire), or proper stories that are revealed word by word ( Where there are doors, there are colors of doors..., The Surrender Field). Also, I have to admit that Square and Rectangle are rather mind-blowing in their bare truth. After reading and re-reading them I realized that is precisely how I see these shapes.

Above all I loved all the self-portraits. Seeing herself in so many things/situations/scenes and/or seeing so many things/situations/scenes in herself is a true gift. Moreover, dressing it all in words has been so successful during the whole Resurrection Party that there are no doubts about a real talent of the author.

I liked the book. Some of the poems didn't really talk to me, but I liked the book. And the more I look back on reading it, the more I caress the poems with my eyes, the more I like it. So full 4 stars, because my likeness is only growing over the time.
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews

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