Alexis Rhone Fancher,  "State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies"  (KYSO Flash Press, 2015)


Alexis Rhone Fancher's State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies (KYSO Flash Press, 2015) is not an "easy" collection. This is not a group of poems that you can take on the train for mere entertainment or to pass the time. These pieces demand the reader to be present, open, and willing to inhabit the suffering of another human being. But in this presence of mind, connections are made. Since the death of her son in 2007, Fancher has written fourteen elegies that create a road map of her grief spanning eight years. These poems can be difficult to absorb, I often found myself needing to retreat from their content, literally step away from the page. I think of "poems as process," meaning the need to express is greater than the need to retreat. I think of "poems as companions," meaning that these pieces reach out to others deep in grief. I think of appreciation-- this poet has contributed to poetry in a significant way. This poet is brave. I liked the pain, the dig of remembering, the way, if I moved the dagger just so, I could see his face, jiggle the hilt and hear his voice clearly, a kind of music played on my bones... She offers this sentiment to her readers, "All life has tragedy, the best we can do is learn from tragedy. And maybe have some sort of shared joy in overcoming it."

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