“By constructing a new mythos about America’s life and soul, Alison Townsend portrays a renewal so abundant it becomes harder to renounce than embrace. Here, even the steps of a mini-skirted girl in a shopping mall resonate with ‘the great and ordinary mystery of being mortal.’ These poems are expansive yet tightly focused; unsentimental yet verdant.
They make you want to live the mystery.”—Sue William Silverman, author of Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You
“Through the lens-metaphor of Persephone’s story, Alison Townsend illuminates the passages, descents, losses and insights hard-won by herself and also by young women she has mentored, women who have made descents of their own into underworlds offered up by contemporary culture. Her poems are generous in their candor and compassion, stunningly written, fierce, and consoling.”—Leslie Ullman, author of Slow Work through Sand
“Persephone in America is a magnificent book. Alison Townsend poignantly and sometimes shockingly blends reimagined myth with reinvented autobiography. Persephone, the abducted daughter of a goddess, is a would-be Barbie, a wild one, a flirt, an innocent, a rape victim, a cutter, a bulimic, a young poet, a girl who misses her mother, an artist’s model, a girl who loves to dance, a depressive, a married woman who has an abortion, and more. . . . Townsend comes at the ancient archetype from so many angles, all of them glittering with line-by-line, phrase-by-phrase richness and insight. This is what revisionist mythology is all about: the sacred and the demonic still alive in our time.”—Alicia Ostriker, author of No Heaven
“Alison Townsend’s Persephone in America is a collection of confidence and authority, a book that does not shirk from the difficult agendas it sets for itself. Townsend—both through her striking Persephone series and her quietly affecting autobiographical narratives—seeks to make sense of the difficulties of grace and renewal. Loss and mourning haunt these poems, but they also arrive at the long perspectives which can attend our middle years. James Wright famously sought to write ‘the poems of a grown man.’ Townsend’s poems are surely—and in places triumphantly—the poems of a grown woman. This book is a very fine achievement indeed.”—David Wojahn, author of Interrogation Palace: New and Selected Poems 1982–2004