Mary Tautin Moloney's debut collection announces the arrival of serious poetic voice.
Mary Tautin Moloney’s debut collection opens with her title poem, with a new bride changing into an old bathing suit to take an impromptu swim with her husband, literally taking the plunge into a “sudden depth of water without a lot of questions,” and taking us with her. This scene sets up what is to come, a heady mix of nature and domesticity, lyricism and passion, acceptance and insistence, all rendered in language and imagery that is strikingly original, a confident display of mastery of form and line announcing the arrival of a serious poetic voice. Who else, for instance, might compare a looming hurricane to the press of blankets descending on her childhood bed? Domestic images occur often, such as the observation that “It helps to have laundry waiting” as a way of maintain perspective, “reaching / inside to separate big from small.” Not that she has any illusions of marital bliss — “It isn’t kindness that has kept us together” — and her portrayal of motherhood is unflinching, recognizing that the needs of her newborn take precedence over “my pillbox of loss” (another wonderful image). In another candid admission, she records how she was “Delivered to forty / it’s verity, lust intact,” and that intensity and craving inform her poetry. “I’ve never / been good at sarcasm,” she says, “Never / known the thing that makes me real.” Perhaps not – but there is very real and fully realized life in these pages.
“‘I’m tipping myself toward,’ Mary Tautin Moloney writes in her gorgeous debut, At the Base of Kaaterskill Falls; and, indeed, these poems are wonderfully restless, churning prepositionally toward/against/onward as interior and exterior worlds collide. This collection simmers, turbulent and passionate.” —Victoria Redel, author of Paradise
“In this meditative debut, Mary Tautin Moloney’s lyric stands ‘at the edge, unable to separate falling // from a choice to fall.’ Hers is a pre-lapsarian erotic which fluidly glides between the quiet domestics of marriage and parenthood to observations about the natural and religious worlds in equal honest wonder. A butterfly is both ‘a sore // muscle stretched’ and also the product of ‘the terrible // beautiful hatched.’ These poems are slender whispers of the interior, distilled moments filled with Lorca’s duende, her lines, brush strokes painting the ‘scar ascending like doves.’ Moloney’s poetry is exquisitely incandescent.” —Diana Khoi Nguyen, author of Ghost Of
“As its title promises, At the Base of Kaaterskill Falls draws on landscapes at once lovely and brutal, soothing and turbulent, ephemeral yet fixed to convey every tension the speaker cannot stop nursing. Even the language here—lyricism smashed against fractured syntax—is as unsettled as it is pleasant. Here is a speaker enamored by inevitable hurricanes and labor pains, by what urgency insists bodies together, by what’s wanted and what can’t be had, and by what was expected and what came. Mary Tautin Moloney simultaneously praises what she breaks, stacking impacts while collapsing distances fighting to widen between and within us, in an effort to move forward and to hold what can be held.” —Lisa Fay Coutley, author of tether
Poetry. Women's Studies.
Mary Tautin Moloney is a 2021 National Poetry Series finalist and a recipient of the 2015 Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Residency fellowship in Cassis, France. Her work has appeared in Tar River Poetry, Quarterly West, and The Florida Review, among others, and she has an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. She works as a freelance instructional designer and is a volunteer mentor for Memorial Sloan Kettering's Visible Ink Writing Program. Originally from Wisconsin, she lives with her family in Maplewood, New Jersey.