Saturday, May 31, 2014



memory holes by Erin Virgil
(Monkey Puzzle Press, Harrison, Arkansas, 2014)

memory holes is well-crafted work, and deceptively so.   “Deceptively” because this memoir is rooted in darkness: the first section “withdrawal” handbook* is about withdrawing from Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), the second section “offers other people’s memoirs” which are replete with loss and desire as they should be as they’re harvested from Craigs List want ads, and the third section is about living in an RV which is a lifestyle inherently singed with uncertainty (where to park tonight?).  Yet, there’s a light—and lightness—in Erin Virgil’s telling/re-telling that alleviates the dark: despair does not have a strong presence in these tales.

So how did the author lift despair out of these dark moments?  One can’t know for sure but I suspect the writer’s observing eye (it’s professional in its distancing!), self-awareness and compassion allows her to rise above if not survive what could be debilitating.  For example, this discerning excerpt from “withdrawal handbook”:

Did you take: 
 and were you still sad in your heart?

In a recent post on her blog, Virgil discussed meditation, which I mention as just an example of what I perceive to be her efforts to increase (self-) awareness .  Such seems to have strengthened this memoir.  For example, from the apt but poignantly titled “want ads”—


Ok, so you must be normal and sane and not an ex-murderer and all that stuff. You must be able to carry on a conversation, or at least act like you’re paying attention.  You must NOT be looking for a sugar momma.  You must be fairly tall (over 6 feet) and not have a mustache. Brownie points if you are Southern. Actually, on second thought, you must NOT be a relocated yankee.

Loneliness is often marked by false bravado. I do it too.  Demanding something so specific from the vastness of the internet: good luck.

Her astute observation and then penetrating insight into what’s observed is welcomingly sparkled by humor: “I am the better space cadet” (27)

Tough circumstances.  But Virgil maintains nothing less than equipoise.


Eileen Tabios does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects because she's its editor (the exception would be anthologies she edits because they focus on other poets as well).  She is pleased, though, to point you elsewhere to recent reviews of her work.  Soffwana Yasmnin engages her poem "Jade" from her THE THORN ROSARY: SELECTED PROSE POEMS AND NEW (19980-2010)  Her latest book, 147 MILLION ORPHANS (MMXI-MML), is also reviewed by Joey Madia at New Mystics Reviews as well as at Book Masons Cafe Press Website and Literary Aficionado.

And her latest anthology as editor, VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA, receives an engagement in this issue of GR by Aileen Ibardaloza; at Manila Standard Today by Jenny Ortuoste; at North American Review by Vince Gotera;  and at Philippine Inquirer by Luis H. Francia.

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