Poetry. The dictionary tells us that a "ghost writer" is one who writes for another, but the matter is not so straightforward in Melody Davis's latest poetry collection. Who are the ghosts here, and who the writer? The book begins with poems about her mother in old age, raging against her confinement in a nursing home and in her own declining body, still demanding autonomy, hurling accusations over transgressions imagined and recalled—in short, as we say of our elderly, "losing it." But most poignantly, perhaps, "losing her words," leaving Davis to attempt to speak for her and with her across a widening gulf. It's an all too common story, facing the aging and death of parents, and in the process confronting the prospect of our own eventual decline and demise. But out of this common experience, Davis has shaped an uncommon meditation on the way we live with our ghosts, how they speak through us. How we don't die all at once, and we don't stay dead. In the middle section of the book, she speaks for the dead of 9/11, while the final section returns to more personal ghosts: "I miss hearing the truth which can only / be found in bars and beauty parlors" she writes, even if many of those truths are painful, abuse witnessed and survived, nostalgia filtered through a haze of cigarette smoke. "Do you believe in ghosts?" Davis asks at one point. You will, as you read these poems and encounter a haunted world, where our ghosts continue to live through us,
writing us into existence, and out of it.
Melody Davis is a poet and art historian. Her most recent book of poetry is GHOST WRITER (Broadstone Books, 2019). Davis has authored five previous volumes, recently Holding the Curve, poetry from Broadstone Books. She is an associate professor of art history at the Sage Colleges and is internationally recognized for her work on nineteenth-century, narrative stereography (3D photography) and vernacular culture. She lives in the Albany, New York, region.Author City: DELMAR, NY USA