San Francisco Chronicle's Stephen Burt praises the depth of characterization in Nickole Brown's Fanny Says in his new poetry spotlight. Calling Fanny "a character in every sense of the word," Burt praises Brown's collection, which includes "plenty of Fanny’s speech, Fanny’s recipes, Fanny’s monologues about how to be a lady," all of which reveal "Fanny’s notions of dignity, along with the limits of her social world." "The prose poems, spoken entirely by Fanny, suggest oral histories like Studs Terkel’s, if Terkel were rewritten by Loretta Lynn and Lucille Ball. Brown’s verse — which makes up most of the volume — is even better: In it the grown-up lesbian Southern poet celebrates Fanny’s quirks and Fanny’s endurance, laments Fanny’s limited options in 'such a different time,' and considers Fanny’s — and her own — white privilege." The review particularly notes Brown's skill with linguistics: "Brown’s interest in Kentucky speech sounds, and the many speeds in her free verse — from rapid fire to syrupy-slow — fit the unfolding of Fanny’s life. She’s especially good on sex and bodies: As for your private parts, Fanny advised, 'soap up daily and watch / like a spectacled hawk.' What would already be a neat set of 'way-back stories / hard as the lichen-green apples / of Kentucky,' told only in Nickole’s or Fanny’s voice, gets depth from the way that we hear both together: Brown neither whitewashes nor condescends, but shows us 'how/ hard she worked/ to become/ who she was.'" Click here for the full review from Stephen Burt. Fanny Says is available at the BOA Bookstore.
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