Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Red Thread Through a Rusty Needle

Rate this book
Poetry collection

58 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1 (100%)
4 stars
0 (0%)
3 stars
0 (0%)
2 stars
0 (0%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 2 of 2 reviews
Profile Image for Lennart Lundh.
14 reviews22 followers
May 8, 2020
The thirty-six poems of Gay Guard-Chamberlin’s collection, Red Thread Through a Rusty Needle, are wide-ranging, touching on a buffet of subjects, including horses, dogs, and crows; parents and other relations; neighbors and emotions-as-humans; Easter eggs and politics (both electoral and inter-personal). They are highly personal and revelatory, but also imbued with a strong sense of universality.

Better still, they are also well-written, reflecting the author’s mastery of the poet’s craft. Form generally follows function, amplifying carefully chosen words instead of burying them. There’s nothing obscure in the imagery, and the text is free of the typos that seem to plague current small press productions.

The lengthy prose poem “Stella Maris” acquaints us with the wonderful character of Guard-Chamberlin’s grandmother, who “dated Johnny Weissmuller before he went o Hollywood and became Tarzan.” We’re told of a book Stella Maris’ father gifted her in a dream: “She swallowed the book and the little black seeds of letters sprouted inside her. When she opened her mouth, invisible words tumbled out. My grandmother fed me with sweet invisible words she grew inside her.” Such a way to be remembered and immortalized.

“Corporal” presents its subject in much less detail, but this simply allows the reader to complete the sketch by drawing on every veteran they’ve either known or seen in a film. The closing is beautifully vague:

Home the hero
tosses the papers
into a rusty tin tub
splashes in a dash
of high-flash kerosene
and a goddamned handy

strike-anywhere match.

Using thirty-seven precise words, “The Inner Life of Words” exposes heart, leaving us “listening // from the heart / of the heart.”

The narrator of “After Hearing of Your Suicide” examines both the resulting grief and their sense of culpability:

Did I notice? Did I listen?
or did I lean my head
at the right angle to convey attention,
then place a bookmark between your words
so my mind could wander off in the woods instead?

For readers who have lived in rural or smaller urban towns, “Shift Change” (p. 21) holds a most relatable, and carefully alliterative, verse: “Street lamps would flit on and off, fitful, / forgetful, an erratic glimmer along darkened / streets neon-lit by a few small shops.”

Out of fairness to the reader, enough; there’s not a single piece here unworthy of being pointed out. In the end, despite deeply plumbed wells, these are surprisingly gentle poems. There are no eruptions of anger at others or the narrator’s memories. Instead, there is honesty in poems that are careful and caring. Out of fairness to yourself and the poet, add a copy to your library.


About the reviewer:
Lennart Lundh is a poet, short-fictionist, historian, and photographer. His work has appeared internationally since 1965.

January 5, 2021

Gay Guard-Chamberlin is a welcomed voice to contemporary poetry, and her most recent collection, Red Thread Through a Rusty Needle, suggests that she has a long-standing affinity to traditional poetic forms, someone used to pushing her imagination to that point of fresh insight we expect from poetry. From the charming simplicity of "A Garment Worker's Song", the amusing self-reflection of "Lament" to her meticulous adherence to traditional structure in "Your Contract" and "My Mother's Keepsake," this book is a wonderful collection from a poet who deserves to be read more.
Displaying 1 - 2 of 2 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.