Poetry. Women's Studies. At one point in Chrissy Kolaya's new poetry collection, she recounts a Korean student struggling to recall the English word "nightgown" and instead saying "dream dresses." How perfect a description for these poems, for in reading them we do slip into dream dresses, garments that let us try on OTHER POSSIBLE LIVES, like the couple in the opening cycle, "The House Sitters," who imagine the life they might have lived in a wealthy client's home, "a dream life, borrowed." Not that the lives imagined here are necessarily dreamy, and a great many of these poems deal with the difficulties of relationships, the recognition that "Sometimes the folks who aren't speaking/ are the ones who know each other best," or the realization at the end of an evening that "tonight/ you are not a lot to live on." There is also a sparseness to the imagery at times, appropriate for a poet of the upper prairie, and Minnesota winters make more than one appearance, underscoring the emotional chill. (Now that Kolaya has moved to Florida, it will be interesting to see how a warmer climate infuses her poetry!) "Always, I am afraid/ of missing something better," says the speaker in one poem, and this is the crux of the collection. We are still haunted by Frost's two roads diverging, the binary of one choice precluding another, and Kolaya's statement of this theme comes in the final lines of the closing poem, "The Right Track," when the speaker, following the end of another relationship, laments, "It was about to happen./ Everything / was about to happen." We are always just on the verge, and we create worlds through the choices we make; but in poetry, at least, we have the chance to see where the other road might have taken us.
Chrissy Kolaya is a poet and fiction writer. Her most recent book of poetry is OTHER POSSIBLE LIVES (Broadstone Books, 2019). Her previous books include Charmed Particles: a novel and Any Anxious Body: poems. Her work has been included in a number of literary journals and anthologies. She teaches creative writing at the University of Central Florida.
Author City: OVIEDO, FL USA