Chapbook Review: Shake It and It Snows

Shake It and It Snows

By Gailmarie Pahmeier

17 pp. Pittsburgh: Coal Hill Review (an imprint of Autumn House Press)

Poetry. $8

ISBN 978-1-932870-39-8

Coal Hill Review’s 2009 Chapbook contest winner was Gailmarie Pahmeier’s Shake It and It Snows. These poems are a hauntingly brief and beautiful glimpse into the world of a small town off the highway. Pahmeier’s diction is simple and straight forward, yet, the stories of these poems stay with you.

The collection begins with the frank line, “Everyone has a story to tell/that’s set inside a bar.”  The poems are strongly narrative, but with precise line breaks and unique turns of phrases such as, “clear grey eyes that can be blue, can be/startled into green,” Pahmeier’s poetry veers away from being too prose-like. Collectively, the poems create a sense of home for the reader, even if her images are completely unlike the ones we are familiar with. There is a sense of nostalgia in the objects she lists: End of the Trail, jukeboxes, cheesecake, family photos, paint drops and Dolly Parton. Yet, this is nostalgia without saccharine sentamentlity or cliche. Lines such as “This is what some people call/a moment of truth that tiny second of clarity/we liars hope to own but/only lease- no matter how earnestly/ no matter how often we pray,” are so moving and honest. This short collection of poetry is quite worth checking out.

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