Ghost Exhibit, by Melissa Atkinson Mercer, Glass Poetry Press, Bunky's Books

Ghost Exhibit, by Melissa Atkinson Mercer

Glass Poetry Press
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Poetry, chapbook, 19 pages, from Glass Poetry Press.

What makes Melissa Atkinson Mercer's ghost exhibit a singular assemblage is the way time wrestles with place, voice, and image. Here, Mercer avalanches a modern Spoon River Anthology, wherein memory tries to reconcile with the ghosts of one's hometown, the scars our families tender us, how racism produces a distorted version of what the world can be. Momentum and precision create some of the most stunning moments in this chapbook: "the nest of deer whispers to itself like a lost city"; "the same girl inside a rabbit's lucky foot inside a coffin in the church between my bones"; "sick as a wolf in the last cave of dawn." ghost exhibit transforms us with incantation, reassertion, command. One feels as though Mercer is performing an excavation, an exhumation, after "the metaphor inside the metaphor," where one locates "which monster consumes the other." The spectral tribunal requests the evidence. Mercer's poetry is after justice.

-Roy Guzmán, author of Restored Mural for Orlando

The ghosts in Melissa Atkinson Mercer's ghost exhibit gather and glimmer behind her shifting, shimmering lines. These poems indeed sing an unearthly song; note by note, Mercer builds a town haunted by its own inhabitants and their history. Mercer maintains a restless sense of mystery so compelling I couldn't put the book down until I'd reached the end. These are poems that stick in the back of the mind, like a specter reminding one of what it means to be human, to live and to see.

-Emma Bolden, author of medi(t)ations

Melissa Atkinson Mercer's ghost exhibit has managed to carve out poignant moments that embody small town life to illuminate the chaos and frustrations experienced in contemporary America — racism and civil unrest. Mercer observes a "town filled with beasts" and she expresses the need to "record what happened" around her and potentially to be rescued from these moments of rural life. These poems record a view into Mercer's "lost city" and the reader is invited to observe the beauty and the beasts that exist in the "sweet apocalypse" of our daily lives.

-Ruben Quesada, author of Next Extinct Mammal

Melissa Atkinson Mercer is the author of the full-length poetry collections Knock (Half Mystic Press, 2018) and Saint of the Partial Apology (Five Oaks Press, 2017), as well as five chapbooks. Her work has recently appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Moon City Review, A Portrait in Blues: An Anthology of Identity, Gender, and Bodies, and others. She has an MFA from West Virginia University, where she won the Russell MacDonald Creative Writing Award in Poetry. She currently works and teaches at Lees-McRae College.