Andie Francis’s chapbook, I am Trying to Show You My Matchbook Collection, explores, among other things, the “largeisland inside of us.” In 26 brief pages, Francis’s poems lead us through the shallow waters of pool parties and existential Craigslist ads, all the while submerging us into the deeper waters of human longing.
With language both playful and poignant, Francis’s poems explore a distant striving for connection juxtaposed with the bright lightheartedness of summer. In “What I really want for us,” she writes: “My friend proposes a cannonball contest because too bad Chick-fil-A sandwiches are really good,” and then two lines later confesses “What I really want for us – to not fear the unknown.”
The highs and the lows of Francis’s chapbook work together like a good song. Flashes of ah-ha moments strike the reader like a mid-summer lightning storm, briefly illuminating some truth that lies deeper than the effervescent surface of swimming pools, nipple rings, and Chick-fil-A sandwiches. Francis reminds us that we are “composed of blood, enough to keep up with the accidentals/of daily life.” We are finally led to her conclusion in the final poem, “I Had Cleaned Up Others’ Messes My Whole Life,” wherein the empowering epiphany of the collection is made clear: what makes an island an island is that it’s surrounded on all sides by water, and at some point we all have to choose to swim. Get this book.
Grant Gerald Miller was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He currently teaches creative writing at The Independent Publishing Resource Center and Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared or is set to appear in various journals including Hobart, Qu Magazine, Bartleby Snopes, Drunk Monkeys, and Fish Magazine‘s 2014 Anthology. You can find him most places @grantgeraldmiller.
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