In a new review, Julie Marie Wade of The Rumpus makes the case for why Nickole Brown's Fanny Says should be considered a contemporary epic poem. "Epic poems are long," says Wade. "They have a narrative arc, which presumably includes a hero and some significant events. And before poems were printed and read from a page, epics epitomized the value of oral tradition: preserving a people’s history and collective identity through a shared text that was memorized and passed down from one generation to the next. . . . Nickole Brown has written an epic poem called Fanny Says." "[Fanny Says] is in essence one long poem—138 pages—chambered like a heart and pumping language like blood to every stanza throughout this single, vital organ. Though Brown has written these words down, the oracular qualities of her grandmother, Frances Lee Cox—her distinctive way of speaking, idioms and regionalisms, malapropisms and profanities all—manifests so entirely that the reader is not really reading but listening as this monumental, multi-generational narrative unfolds. In Saussurean terms, we might say Brown is skillfully managing the language so that Fanny can exemplify the parole." Naming both Fanny and Nickole Brown as the book's heroes, the review continues: "You could listen to Fanny all day, couldn’t you? She is a woman speaking her most hard-won truths through the dexterous and diligent medium of her granddaughter. This epic is a channeling, a conjuring, even a raising of the dead. Perhaps all epics are. . . . [Brown] has restored the older woman’s voice, and with it, her three-dimensional body, the shadow it cast, her gestures and habits. Fanny is not merely described in these pages; she is embodied." "How hard it is to go on alone when our greatest mortal guides in this world leave us for the Great Beyond. Harder still when we cannot follow them, even in this life, toward a Common Story: when our hearts tell us something different about whom we can love and how we should be in the world. What to do with the grief, what to do with the unfamiliar path we must forge? We can run and never look back. We can hide and never come out. Or we can make the hardest choice, which is to remember the past, honor our forebears, and then step forward with the courage to diverge." Click here to read the full Rumpus review. Fanny Says can be purchased at the BOA Bookstore.
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