Yes, we know how this story goes:
the bride who runs, the girl who roams,
how in his arms he’ll bring her home,
like Peter to his pumpkin shell,
like Jacob with his bride in veil,
like Hades to his ghastly hell,
and in his tower keep her well,
and sometimes let her story tell
his wild thing, he loves. –
“Where the Wild Things Were”
Medusa preparing for a date. Persephone at the Farmer’s Market. Dorothy contemplating a career in meteorology. What happens when the stories we think we know become the stories we need most to hear? Elizabeth Johnston Ambrose’s first chapbook, Wild Things is an eclectic mix of persona poems and poems that meditate on the mythologies of femininity. With her characteristic wit, Johnston Ambrose offers an incisive poetic analysis of beloved fairy tales and classic myths, asking readers to re-see and re-think familiar stories of womanhood.
"Elizabeth Johnston Ambrose is a poet to be reckoned with. I’m wild, wild, wild about her poetry. And Wild Things is the best book of poetry I’ve read in the past year. I kid you not. The VERY best.
There’s nothing like a poet genius with a feminist bent to take on so many of the myths we were taught–really, force fed–through the years of schooling from grade school to grad school." --Karla Linn Merrifield on GoodReads
For purchase at https://mainstreetragbookstore.com/.../wild-things.../
“She was always a disappointment.” So begins Imago, Dei, Rattle Magazine’s 2021 Chapbook Prize winner, a novella-in-verse about a woman navigating her way to wholeness after having grown up under the fragmenting shadow of evangelicalism and toxic masculinity.
GoodRead Reviews (4.29/5 stars):
"Imago, Dei is an emotionally powerful collection of poems highlighting the damage inflicted on girls raised in a severely conservative Evangelical household....the most impactful book of poetry I've read in a very long time" --GoodReads
"This is a great collection of poems. Both personal and universal, about women in America, religious women in America." --Goodreads
"Imago, Dei is an artful, imagistic, painful chapbook that prevails through metamorphosis. It is beautifully written, deep, with both searing dark and light. It's serious but not without humor. The experience of a difficult life, human and otherwise that can't help but rise in beauty. It has stayed with me."-- Goodreads
Purchase for $6 here: https://www.rattle.com/product/imago-dei/
How to Be
This collection takes as its focus the redhead as a cultural phenomenon, and, in particular, the redheaded girl/woman as a site of longing, fear, and fantasy.
Why does Edward Munch imagine Sin as a redhaired woman? Why is the sexually promiscuous woman Gulliver encounters on the island of the Hounhyms a redhead? How was Queen Elizabeth I's power (or imagined monstrosity) connected to the color of her hair (the Scots referred to her as “the red hag”)? What lies behind the Pre-Raphaelite impulse to imagine both the Virgin Mary and the prostitute Mary Magdalene as redheads? What about the series of pre-Raphaelite paintings which depict both Medusa (killed by Perseus) and Andromeda (married to Perseus after he saves her using Medusa's head) as redheads? One dominant theme becomes clear: the redhead is a figure that both titillates and terrifies, an iconic repository for all-too familiar anxieties about female power.
MC1R, which is the gene for redheads, maps to chromosome 16q24.3. This means it is located on the long arm of chromosome 16, in position 24.3 Accordingly, I plan for the project to contain 24 poems, split into three sections, with the 16th poem being the longest. Section one will focus on historic redheads from literature and popular culture, for example Orphan Annie, Lilith, Queen Elizabeth 1, Sylvia Plath, and The Little Mermaid. Section two will feature poems which each begin with an epigraph of a scientific “fact” (some examples: redheads have more sex; redheads feel less pain and require more anesthesia; redheads are conceived when a woman has sex on her period). The third section will be narrative poems based in my biographical experience. I have also created a new form based on this science called the MC1R form; a small portion of the poems in this collection will follow that form.