From Your Hostess At The T&A Museum

By Kathleen Balma

Poetry

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From Your Hostess At The T&A Museumis a stunning series of imaginative leaps and encounters, as playful as it is momentous. Not only poetry lovers, but enthusiasts of art history, fantasy fiction, sci-fi, westerns, travel narratives, nature documentaries, and historical fiction will delight in its genre-bending adventures and inventions. How did Abraham Lincoln build the log cabin he was born in? What happens at an invisible gun show? Are aliens really controlling a Chicago musician’s ears? Kathleen Balma crafts answers to these and other metaphysical questions with a language all her own. Known for her deadpan humor and lack of pretense, Balma has given us a first book that is both light to carry and hard to put down.

Kathleen Balma’s poems have appeared in Best New Poets, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Montreal International Poetry Prize Anthology, and many other publications. She works as a programming and services librarian at New Orleans Public Library, where she is the founder and leader of Virtual Creative Writing Workshop—a free, intergenerational writing group for residents of Orleans Parish. From Your Hostess At The T&A Museum is her debut collection.

 

 

"In Kathleen Balma’s first full-length collection, intelligent soybeans plot to take over the Midwest, ghosts seek out psychoanalysis, embryonic Abraham Lincolns design their cabin home, and baby snub-nosed monkeys live out a lyrical and heartbreaking soap opera. Witty, fresh, whimsical and musical, From Your Hostess At The T&A Museum is one of those very rare feats, poems of both thought and song, a beguilement of both intellect and ear. I found it a joyride from beginning to end, a thoroughly smart and rewarding debut; Balma is a poet I hope to follow for years to come."–Hailey Leithauser, author of Swoop

"Kathleen Balma's debut poetry collection is a marvelous concoction steeped in myth, nostalgia, humor, and the chimerical. Sirens are juxtaposed with Dreamsicles, John Wayne rides in on a John Deere tractor, and Brigadoon and Salvador Dalí are saluted in a poem about stopping time. Punctuated with startling similes like Abe Lincoln as a “Christmas specter,” Balma’s book is “a complex amalgam of positive and negative” imagery, shining with both wit and wonder."–Simone Muench, author Wolf Centos

A ghost needs an audience or it is pointless,” writes Balma, and the same can be said about poets. “But does a ghost need a point?” she continues. No. Does a poet? Jeez, I hope not! Poems are toys, not vitamin pills, and these are full of playfulness. They’re also full of contradictions (see “Revelation at the Invisible Gun Show”), because between the contra- and the diction is where the poem is found. I won’t tell you what “the best sad thing that’s happened to me all year” is, but it’s a doozy. Read on, reader, and let Kathleen Balma free your mind.–David Kirby, author of The Ha-Ha