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The Girl Singer by Marianne Worthington

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The title reflects the fact that women, even very accomplished women, have too often been treated like girls. True, the majority of these poems deal with women who sing, especially well-known country singers from Appalachia, but Worthington does not present them out-of-context. Here you will also find poems that dwell on their natural surroundings and what we all have gained from women not known for their singing. “The Girl Singer is a praise song, love song, rage song,  ballad, recitative, and lament for early country music singers costumed, renamed, packaged, and sold; for the poet's mother, who filmed a teenage Dolly Parton singing in a gas station parking lot; the poet's father, caught in paralysis and a fading mind; for the musicians―country and soul―who were the soundtrack of her growing up; and for the glory of being in the audience at the Ryman when Bobby Bare kissed Marty Stuart. Worthington reclaims these beloveds, along with her "maternal people" and her grandmothers, with whom she is "encircled now, all / living together." She restores her parents to their beginning―and hers―as we go with them to the Opry on their honeymoon. Through multiple forms―fixed and invented―she renders these moments. And by turns her singing words dazzle and cleave our hearts."―George Ella Lyon. "In this lively and indelible collection, where the dead stay dancing and the crows are full of quarrel, where hands might be covered in blood or guitar calluses, Marianne Worthington's hypnotic rhythms and dazzling images transport us to barn dances, the Ryman, kitchen tables, backyard bird feeders, and Knoxville living rooms lit by the TV glow. Reverent of the thin places and defiant in their joy, these poems strum and pluck, vibrate and ring. The voice of The Girl Singer is high, clear, and true."―Erin Keane. The poet, Marianne Worthington, grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee, and teaches at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky, 70 miles north of Knoxville.

Lexington: Fireside Industries/University Press of Kentucky, 2021. 104 pages. Trade paperback.