Late in 2013, Janice Harrington was honored by CBS Chicago as one of five "Best Local Poets." Dubbed a "compelling poet" and an "accomplished writer" by CBS Chicago, Harrington's BOA collections Even the Hollow my Body Made is Gone and The Hands of Strangers are called "vividly haunting portrayals of distant memories lost, but not forgotten." The Hands of Strangers made another recent media appearance, this time in a piece by Tim Mullaney of McKnight's Long-Term Care News--not your typical literary review. Though admittedly not a poetry aficionado, Mullaney was intrigued by the collection after Harrington's CBS Chicago feature, and "read the book in a single sitting over the holidays." "This book-length collection of poems vividly describes the daily routines and grapples with the philosophical concerns of long-term care, including the complexities of aging, the burdens and rewards of caregiving, and the inevitably of death," says Mullaney. "...you don't need to be a particular fan of poetry to appreciate Harrington's work. Her language, while artful, is rarely esoteric, and many of the poems tell some sort of story or paint a portrait of a character." Mullaney makes particular note of Harrington's ability to capture the day-to-day realities of living and working in long-term care facilities, and also the tendency for her poems to elevate these unexpected objects of inspiration. "Harrington's poetry lavishes attention on many things--catheters and wound dressings and bedpans--that rarely get this type of literary treatment. She also focuses on the people who aren't often the subjects of poems..." Emphasis is also placed on the relationships between residents and caregivers in the poetry. Both the tensions and learning that can take place on either side of these relationships bring the people and places in the poems to life. Harrington "certainly has done right" by both residents and caregivers. Harrington's poetry is "expansive, rich with meaning and an uncommonly authoritative, nuanced reflection on long-term care, which I highly recommend reading." Click here for CBS Chicago's "Best Local Poets in Chicago" feature. Click here to read the entire McKnight's review. Purchase your own copy of The Hands of Strangers at the BOA Bookstore.
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