Cathleen Chambless and I met at AWP 2015. At that time I was running a gorilla press table trying to sling our punk aesthetics to a book loving crowd. Cathleen really dug our style and after exchanging emails I asked her for some poems. She sent me a chapbook idea called “Sugercoated” were each poem was inspired by a punk track. After spending some time with her poems I wanted more so I eventually asked her if she had a book length manuscript, she sent me Nec(Romantic), (order it here), a series of poems about the personal loss of many things; from personhood, sexuality, to voice, leading moreover to the regaining of self through continued fight.
Nec(Romantic) is the death of classic Romanticism, the notion of the way things should be and should have been, the death of the trope “hopeless romantic”. From the first poem a transformation of the artist begins, the shedding of the old self in to a new beginning in which Cathleen knows the path, and she illuminates a trail for the reader to follow.
Nec(Romantic) is the death of the ideal, the binary conventions between the American Dream fantasy and the fraction of its mentality of “only this one way”. Using confessional styles, mixed with classical poetry architypes, Cathleen’s true force is the power to forgive oneself while never forgetting how she, as the person and the artist, got to where she is; how a person can hold on to love while losing the one you love.
Holding a mirror up to itself, Nec(Romantic) drives to understand, and bring understanding to the reader, that the ones you love spirits always remain, even through tragedy or bigotry. This, I think, leaves the reader hopeful while knowing that there is more work to be done. To understand what we don’t know instead of degrading, maiming, and disregarding people that differ from themselves.
A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure to travel to Miami, FL and hang out with one of our newest gorilla press authors Cathleen Chambless, author of Nec(Romantic), for her book release. Books & Books, in Coral Gables, graciously opened their doors and Cathleen packed the house for her debut reading. (See video from her reading here!)
The next day Cathleen and I traveled to Fort Lauderdale, FL for her reading at Girls, INC which was a wonderful artistic backdrop to the second reading of the weekend for the release.
I had a wonderful week traveling around Dade County taking in the sites and sounds, getting to know Cathleen. I’d like to say thank you to Cathleen, her roommates, her amazing mother, Book & Books, and Girls, Inc for an awesome time.