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Shadow-feast
Joan Houlihan




Four Way
2018 • 64 pp. 6 x 9"
Poetry / Poetry - Women Authors / Poetry - Death, Grief, Loss

$15.95 Paperback, 978-1-945588-08-2



Elegiac in tone, these poems reflect a voice in crisis and its struggle with an unwelcome silence

Shadow-feast is a chronicle of dying—the awareness, denial, pain, and hope surrounding incurable illness, as well as the aftermath of grief as told from three points of view: Hers, His, and Theirs (the couple). The collection as a whole is a kagezen, or shadow-feast, a traditional Japanese meal offered to the dead. However here it is set out not for an absent beloved, but for the reader.

Praise for previous books.

“To say that Houlihan is a unique voice in American poetry is an understatement....” —Ilya Kaminsky

Reviews / Endorsements



Shadow-Feast, the deft, wrenching title of this collection, inspired by the enigmatic internationalist writer Lafcadio Hearn, provides one of many keys to experiencing the meticulous linguistic ‘ceremony’ and rich ‘repast’ of Joan Houlihan’s singular work. These are urgent and fiercely incorruptible lyrics where the unsettlingly oblique and surreal is juxtaposed against moments of lucid and visceral anguish: ‘We had married ourselves to a trance.’ And ‘When they came for him full-dressed / and somber, they lifted a body made lighter / by suffering, laid it into the rubber bag / then zipped it to the top of his head.’ Who writes with this kind of prescient confidence and startling lyricism besides Joan Houlihan? Emily Dickinson, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Harryette Mullen come to mind.” —Peter Covino

“‘COME TO THE WAIT and the sea/flexes sleek in the sun,’ Joan Houlihan tells us, and we sense the subtle disruption of our expectations of normalcy. We’ve entered an alternative sense of time, one lived daily by those facing an encroaching death, and we find ourselves intuitively responding to how the coming of a death offers this constancy: all will become foreign, all hopes and self-protective devices will be violated.”—Rusty Morrison



The award-winning author of five books of poetry, JOAN HOULIHAN received her BA and MAT in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and serves on the faculty of Lesley University’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is Professor of Practice in Poetry at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Houlihan founded and directs the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference. She lives outside of Boston.



Tue, 15 May 2018 13:58:17 -0500