Review of Scranton Lace: Poems (Clemson University Press)
A lyrical and brutal dismantling
by Emma Murray
“In Vulgar Latin, Lace means entice, / ensnare.” Poet Margot Douaihy and scratchboard illustrator Bri Hermanson do just that with Scranton Lace: Poems. Douaihy’s poems lyrically and brutally dissect coming of age as a queer person in the Rust Belt, and the Scranton Lace Company—a hometown fixture turned ruin—is her muse. From sleeping off a first hangover in “The Lace” parking lot, to falling “in lust” with a diner waitress who worked nearby, this fixture and the lace itself serve as portals through which Douaihy conjures and reconciles her adolescent homophobia, as well as what it means when these familiar structures falter. “Like a honeycomb, the more you turn a memory / the more doors you find.”
Not only is this collection a tour de force lyrically, but also visually. Hermanson’s signature scratchboard illustrations guide the reader through interludes about two imagined female factory workers. Hermanson’s medium seems symbolic of the collection’s intent—etching away literal and figurative edifice to get to the raw wound. This, combined with how Hermanson has dappled pages with relief prints of genuine Scranton Lace, will leave readers fingering the pages for more. But don’t let the enticing lace fool you—this collection has teeth, as Douaihy reminds: “yes lace is porous / but it can still smother.”
Poet and visual artist Emma Murray received her MFA from Oklahoma State University. She received an Academy of American Poets Prize in 2016.
Purchase Link: tinyurl.com/ScrantonLace
Watch the book trailer: https://vimeo.com/259487376