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Knock Wood: A Memoir in Essays

Knock Wood: A Memoir in Essays

by Jennifer Militello


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Winner of the 2018 Dzanc Nonfiction Prize

In Knock Wood, the first nonfiction collection by award-winning poet Jennifer Militello, a knock on wood to ward off illness sets in motion a chain of events and memories that call into question the very structure of time.

Anchored by a wooden ring, Militello explores her life through the lens of three intertwined elements: the story of a mentally ill aunt in an abusive marriage; a high school romance with a boy who eventually dies of a heroin overdose; and an extra-marital affair characterized by an otherworldly connection. Cause and effect reverse as significant events—an arrest for a felony committed in high school, a trip by train to meet an illicit lover, and a suicide attempt on those same New York tracks—seem to influence one another outside of time and space. As Militello delicately threads each memory to the next, she explores the themes of family damage and the precarious ties of love.

Militello has been recognized many times for her work in poetry and prose, including honors such as the Yeats Poetry Prize from the W.B. Yeats Society of New York, the Betty Gabehart Poetry Prize, and the Tupelo Press First Book Award. Her collection Body Thesaurus was named one of the top poetry books of 2013 by Best American Poetry.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781945814969
Publisher: Dzanc Books
Publication date: 08/13/2019
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Militello is the author of A Camouflage of Specimens and Garments (Tupelo Press, 2016), called “positively bewitching” by Publishers Weekly, Body Thesaurus (Tupelo Press, 2013), named one of the top books of 2013 by Best American Poetry, and Flinch of Song, winner of the Tupelo Press First Book Award. Her poetry and nonfiction have been published widely in such journals as American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Mid-American Review, The Nation, The New Republic, The Paris Review, Poetry, and Tin House. She teaches in the MFA program at New England College.

Table of Contents

Theory of Relativity 5

The Witnesses 9

Knock Wood 15

Dear Your Honor: 19

The Town 23

Duplex 27

All the Resonance of a Smashed Violin 33

Memory as the Quince 37

Knock Wood 39

On Fragility 43

The Problems of the Mothers 47

What to Leave, What to Unearth 55

On Time 59

The Mechanics 65

Knock Wood 69

Why I Became a Criminal 73

Latent Print 79

Procedures for an Outing 83

Invasive Species 87

Dead Reckoning 89

Knock Wood 93

The Living Room 97

Flower Girl 101

The Repairs 105

The Accidents 109

Conspiracy to Commit Larceny 115

The Deaths 119

Knock Wood 127

Vow 131

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