"Carlyle spins lyrical realities and grim fantasies in her first collection of poetry. Set against the dreamy backdrop of an uncanny American South, the poet weaves together more than 30 poems that explore family dynamics, awakening sexuality, unexpected dangers, and the lasting, systemic effects of poverty and drug abuse. The author draws from her own upbringing in Kentucky and Alabama but infuses her recollections with fairy-tale logic and mythic figures. Some girls are depicted as ghostly sirens in creeks or as corpses that eerie “Rivermen” might dredge up. The woods are populated with strange desires, and there are references to the Animal, a totemic creature apparently located at the precipice of puberty. A pain clinic is portrayed as both a church and temptation, with the pills it doles out as the only communion available. Carlyle’s poetry will absorb readers with lush imagery that doesn’t shy away from the carnal and disturbing: “What man made their bodies into tables—arms and legs bent backward, / a coffee cup on the sternum?” The poetry also makes use of space, with stanzas strategically formatted to draw attention to specific thoughts or words and entire sections that call back to others, adding to the cyclical, fablelike quality of the collection. Carlyle’s poems resonate with lived experience; in an interview, she acknowledges that some of her subject matter was influenced by her family’s struggles with opioids, which contributed to her father’s death in 2019. There’s a clear sense of loss in these poems, which helps to transform a paean to rural adolescent girlhood into a catharsis for both the poet and the reader. A set of works suffused with wonder, terror, and honesty."
— Kirkus Starred Review
"Erin Carlyle's Magnolia Canopy Otherworld is a book of precise, gemlike images, where beneath the duende-soaked landscape of rivers, rabbits, trailers, and woodlots, the evidence of patriarchal damage lurks like an undertow. As an act of resistance, Carlyle sets before us the world we have been taught to ignore and says look: the roadkill, the small child wandering alone, the desolation of addiction, the woman-as-object. Wherever the poet casts her eye, the ghosts of violence, family, adolescence, and loss materialize and their visitations are traced with an urgent lyricism that is both gritty and graceful. Open these pages and watch as Erin Carlyle calls forward the drowned girls in their matching white dresses. Be ready for her to interrupt your life with poem after stunning poem in this haunting and arresting debut."
— F. Daniel Rzicznek, author of Settlers
"In this haunting and visceral collection, Carlyle guides us on an imaginative and transformative journey through Southern girlhood in which girls are ghosts, girls are animals, girls are daughters and lost friends, girls struggle to be more than just bodies. A riveting, smart, and unforgettable debut."
—Rebecca Morgan Frank, author of Little Murders Everywhere
Genre: Poetry Collection
Page Count: 67
Release Date: December 15 2020
**Cover Art by Neva Hosking
**Cover Design by Sally Franckowiak