Yours, Purple Gallinule (Paperback)
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Lyrical satire that imagines mental illnesses as various bird species.
Ewa Chrusciel’s fourth book in English, Yours, Purple Gallinule, playfully explores health and illness as they are culturally constructed. Using research into clinical understandings of mental afflictions and their treatments through history, Chrusciel maps various diagnostics onto an array of bird species. A lyrical satire, the book is a reflection on a society that tends to over-diagnose, misdiagnose, and over-medicate. These poems pose questions about what it means to be unique and to accept pain and suffering as a fact of life.
On the pages of Yours, Purple Gallinule, we encounter birds, a poet, and a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist undergoes a series of conversions as she realizes that the point is not to classify thoughtlessly, but to “make music instead”—to dwell in astonishment. Birds evade the anthropomorphizing intentions of the human protagonists as the psychiatrist and the poet eventually become one. The anthropomorphizing goes in reverse, and the human being becomes more avian. Like the dove in the biblical Noah’s ark story, the bird proclaims a new covenant, with a twig in its beak and a message: “We are all mad; some more than others, but no one is spared the affliction. And the madder we are, the more sacred.”
About the Author
Ewa Chrusciel is a poet, translator, and associate professor at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire. She is the author of three books of poems in English—Of Annunciations, Contraband of Hoopoe, and Strata—as well as three books in Polish.
"As we continue to live through our world’s 'chain of unbearable events,' it is time for the sharp and sweet audacity of Ewa Chrusciel’s work. You don’t have to believe a person can become a bird to adore Ewa Chrusciel’s new book, but I dare you to read it without considering it might be true. The book is poetry because you’ll find yourself considering not just that it might happen, but how. Using the world of birds, Yours, Purple Galinulle shows us, in observations and witticisms crisp as the bite of an apple, the limits of our own understanding, as it directs us towards new possibilities we can be grateful for. Paired with illustrations by Nancy Sepe that marry playfulness and sorrow, Yours, Purple Galinulle is both light and dark, comedy and tragedy, agile at both: what Robert Frost would call 'play for mortal stakes.'"
— Katie Peterson, author of Life in a Field
"In Yours, Purple Gallinule, Ewa Chrusciel invites us to fall in with birds and be astonished by an aclosural world of mental aviaries and 'tiny throat' diagnoses. Like the poet herself, who is a descendant of birds, our souls are 'winged'. Thus we are transported to a liminal world of mythmaking and identity formation by embracing derangement and creating our own migration. Yours, Purple Gallinule brims with humor, erudition, and, yes!, heresy. It dazzles with a fierce imagination and is a superb addition to Ewa Chrusciel’s already impressive body of work."
— Abayomi Animashaun, author of Seahorses
"'A baby titmouse is tucking itself under my elbow,' Poet Ewa Chrusciel says in the first line of her boldly ambitious fourth collection, Yours, Purple Gallinule, in which she weaves an inextricable connection between the lives of birds and our own spiritual and physical lives. Chrusciel wrestles with the definition and meaning of poetry and its relationship to imagination, psychic disorder, fragmentation, exile and history: 'A poem is a ravenous flock of snow buntings, an apocalypse of the air. Mad in its dazzlement,' she notes. Hundreds of birds sing, shit, nest, shed feathers, hide in crevices, mount defenses, create families, search for food for their babies, and soar in these pages. Yours, Purple Gallinule is a book of migrations and transformations, astounding facts and revelations—wise and utterly original."
— Jeff Friedman, author of The Marksman and Floating Tales