Women in Parentheses is a delightful, important, sexy, smart, and sassy collection of poems about women caught between the concrete and abstract, the real and imagined—confines, parentheses, sometimes cultural, psychological, sexual, or of their own making. Poet Catherine Arra possesses a confident woman’s voice full of grace and generosity, strength and vulnerability. The women that inhabit these poems “step(s) on out” and “paint the town,” wear red lipstick, even though the book doesn’t dwell on the physical but sticks to substance. There is a sense of inclusiveness and universality for all women—portraits from every walk of life. The poet uses nostalgia/childhood to great effect with references to Barbie & Ken, Cinderella, Once Upon a Time princes, and she seems to do this effortlessly, without being overly sentimental or sacrificing the adult voice. From girls to wise older women, Arra looks at the ways in which women are squeezed into the circumstances and expectations of gender, how some live life there, while others dig escape tunnels or kick down walls.
Paperback: 91 pages
Publisher: Kelsay Books (August 16, 2019)