Stay: Prose Poems by Kathleen McGookey


Stay: Prose Poems by Kathleen McGookey


A Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection

ISBN 978-1-941209-28-8

9 x 6 paperback, 90 pages

Cover image by Dawn Surratt

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Praise for Stay

There is such pain and such beauty in Stay, and there are so many astonishing moments of what I can only call distilled reverie, I feel nothing short of awe after reading this collection. McGookey's poems shimmer with a profound sense of love and loss and wonder. Each one is like a section of stained glass window. Together they are an illumination. 

Nin Andrews, author of Why God Is a Woman

The small spaces of Kathleen McGookey’s intimate prose poems are uncannily expansive. As they move through experiences of caretaking and motherhood, birth and death, grief and anger, wishes and prayers, they challenge ordinary conceptions of what domestic life is and what it can be. Stay casts a spell that slows time down, allowing us to enter the vibrant and variegated texture of real alertness.

Mary Szybist, author of Incarnadine

I love Kathleen McGookey’s poems — their tenderness and their strangeness, how the spareness of their language points to both absence and presence, how the poems go, unflinchingly, straight through grief to beauty, and the heart.

Each of the prose poems that make up Stay is a small window into a life lived with almost excruciating awareness, filled with the details of “ordinary” life, made extraordinary by the poet’s luminous attention to what goes on around and within her and those she loves. Family life, especially, is rendered with such exquisite precision and compassion — the loss of beloved parents; the birth of children — that we’re reminded what it’s like to be fully human, under “a sky that keeps right on vanishing,” haunted as much by “the kiss on the shoulder” as by “the fledgling death working its wet wings.”

McGookey infuses her poems with sensuality and mystery — the mystery of being alive, and of death, and of love — and yet the poems are open, accessible, quietly startling in their unfolding, each playing out like a fable or a fairytale, each with a kind of aching magic inside it.

Cecilia Woloch, author of Carpathia

Kathleen McGookey is poetry’s Joseph Cornell. In her daring new collection, Stay, she re-assembles what we, without a nod, pass by every day. In doing so McGookey reveals that—no matter what the arrangement—the world is seamless. Her stunningly uncommon intelligence shows us that if there is order, it can be created from most anything, and yet her fresh and penetrating perceptions are never arbitrary. Like Cornell’s deceptively welcoming boxes, these poems leave us refreshingly off-kilter and deeply grateful that we have been invited to stay.

Jack Ridl, author of Losing Season and Practicing to Walk Like a Heron


About the Author

Kathleen McGookey’s prose poems and translations have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Epoch, Field, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, The Best of The Prose Poem: An International Journal, The Party Train: A Collection of North American Prose Poetry, and The House of Your Dream: An International Collection of Prose Poetry. The forthcoming anthology Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence includes her work, and her poetry collection, At the Zoo, will be published by White Pine Press in spring 2017. She has received grants from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the Arts Fund of Kalamazoo County, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She has taught creative writing at Hope College, Interlochen Arts Academy, and Western Michigan University. She lives in Middleville, Michigan, with her family.