Nancy Mitchell’s tour-de-force The Out-of-Body Shop looks into the “unbearable lightness of being” and does not flinch. The Southern Gothic landscape of her familial history is filled with ghosts that have followed into the present moment remembering, along with the poems, the bodily split of human trauma. Mitchell’s poems illustrate the great Truth that “the retro-fit of the body depends on remembering—.” This highly anticipated third volume illustrates how, exactly, the otherworldly resides within us and outside of us right inside the tender lyric, blooming of things. “The Out-of-Body Shop” is the place we all come to to be born a new, piece by piece, the long letting go that is the sun shining in through the kitchen window in morning.
—Elizabeth Powell, author of Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter
Drifting tantalizingly between the vivid, piercing particularity of personal memory and the unanchored intimacy of philosophical reflection, The Out-of-Body Shop bridges the distance between body and mind and reminds the reader that to be human is to live, always, in the vibrant space between. Nancy Mitchell is a high priestess of the art, and this book is not to be missed.
—Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
Making use of wide-ranging poetic strategies, from jagged, consonant-filled lyrics to gothic Frost-like narratives, Nancy Mitchell tells a startling story of a woman’s survival. In the course of this journey she mercilessly moves through and beyond the pain and grief of damaged, impoverished family life, transforming her speaker’s powerlessness to a state of grace, a humane hope in the possibility of change.
—Ira Sadoff, author of True Faith
"Whether homing in on the “blank, bright/as black lacquer” eye of a dead bird, the “scavenger-scattered/cryptic ghost script across the snow,” or the fireflies she mistakes for the father’s materialized threat “to burn//every single weed/into the goddam dirt,” Mitchell leaves no shade of grief or beauty unexamined. Rigorously crafted, these emotionally evocative poems probe what lies below veneers, beyond smoke screens, beneath the relentless pull of memories. They wrestle with the paradox of being at once “in the body, but not/of the body” and release their energy like the sacred “lit/sweet grass/braid” mourners pass hand-to-hand at a friend’s burial ceremony. The Out-of-Body Shop is transfixing and transformative.
—Mihaela Moscaluic, author of Immigrant Model
Nancy Mitchell has written a book of ghosts, of family long and recently gone, of friends, both the actual dead and those lost (as yet) merely to distance and our myriad contemporary distractions. “We like one another,” Mitchell says, “we have emojis.” —This rare yoking of irony and true feeling is shot through the book. The poems, too, are ghosts, partial and startling, often leaving the reader with a single, primary color feeling, melded to sensory detail. As in the poem, “Ghost Smoke,” where the poet is wakened in the middle of the night by the smell of cigarette smoke. Though not entirely awake, and no one in the house has smoked for years, the poet recognizes the scent—it’s the brand her dead mother favored, “Ginny Skinnies, she called them." These are the poems of a romantic all grown up, a lover who has broken through successive layers of illusion and now entertains the visitations of romance, in all its forms, as a sober adult. Such romance is no longer limited to the realm of bodily experience, and the book ranges through events of the past and the present with egalitarian ease. After reading thorough these skillful, haunted (and haunting) poems, one realizes the aptness of the title: the book itself is an “Out-of-Body Shop,” where the soul is no longer constrained by time and space, and goes where it must for healing, restitution, and love.
—Jeffrey Skinner, author of Chance Divine
This book stands as an imaginary beach, where women help each other to give birth to their griefs; the birth of sorrows here is given words with a growing power, itensity, wisdom, a wisdom will wirred to its human love and memory. Malena Morling says the poems in this book are so lucidly and deeply felt that they cut directly to the bone of the experiences they are recounting. This is a true and an incredibly beautiful book.
—Jean Valentine, author of Shirt in Heaven
Mitchell is blessed with a vivid—and haunting—memory of particulars, the things of our past, and of the more complex feelings the things generate. She refuses nothing, she is deadly accurate, yet she sings. We should read her.
—Gerald Stern, author of Galaxy Love
The poems in Nancy Mitchell's book Grief Hut are so lucidly and deeply felt that they cut directly to the bone of the experiences they are recounting. This is a true and incredibly beautiful book.
—Malena Morling, author of Ocean Avenue
Her descriptions of people, the details and detritus of their lives are studied and stunning. May we hear more from this talented poet.
—Doug Holder, author of Last Night at the Wursthaus
In taut, tentative lyrics that attempt a precarious balance in a landscape ravaged by loss, the narrator allows the wounded psyche to begin its laborious process of emergence and renewal. These tentative explorations focus on negative space made palpable when viewed through the gauzy layers of creation's healing art: "Now I watch / what gathers between us, //between me / and what isn't you." Like H.D., our neglected master of the fragmentary gesture, Nancy Mitchell offers wrenching testimonials to those vast and luminous human privacies that animate and transform our common selves.
—Michael Waters, author of The Dean of Discipline
The resistance of silence, the breath on the mirror from the back, the figure feeding bees from a sack to the birds in the low branches, the grass in the photograph that keeps on growing: this is the place to which Nancy Mitchell takes us, the spare intensity of her poems like the midnight flare of the stove's burner, its "wreath of blue-white flame."
—Eleanor Wilner, author of Tourist in Hell