Siren Open Access

Gramling, Hilleary (2017)

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Siren is a collection of poems that examines the physical and psychological effects of trauma and its connection to human relationships, gender, religion, body image, sexual and physical abuse, death, self-harm, suicide, depression, and ultimately reclamation. The narrative is driven by a singular female voice as she navigates her emotional experiences in the aftermath of personal trauma. Her voice is simultaneously polyphonic, magnified to reflect the greater, more collective question of what happens after tragedy. Oscillating between one female voice and many, Siren is not situated in one specific place but many, from a subway to the beach, in order to unite those voices across physical space. Focused on how "the self" is shaped, compelled and altered by tragedy, the thematic content of the collection is mirrored by its formal elements.

As the poems weave between past and present, short free verse propels the narrative forward while prose-like components halt that motion to create engagement with a specific moment. With the short free verse poem forming the backbone of the work, each shift in form marks a shift in content. As the speaker's consciousness waxes and wanes between reflection of past abuse and ownership of the present, so too do the poems, illuminating the complicated intersection of pain and love. Influenced by the works of Louise Glück, Ai, Kim Addonizio, Carl Phillips, Sylvia Plath, Jericho Brown and Rita Dove, Siren is a confessional blending of found narratives, utilizing the personal as the political and acknowledging the inherent relationship between the two.

Balancing direct, truncated poetic styles with lyric to cultivate a work that is both raw and resolved, Siren is at once a reflection on and resistance to the cycles that perpetuate trauma. It is a call, drawing attention to the nuances of personal anguish and the possibility of the transformation of the self.

Table of Contents

1. Moon 2. Window 3. Gray 4. Yesterday 5. Show

6. Treasure Island, Florida

7. Sin 8. Product 9. Moment 10. Cotton 11. Garden 12. Dinner 13. Loop

14. Dear Mother,

15. Hospital 16. Aerial 17. Red 18. Retrospective 19. Reverse 20. Core 21. Vase 22. Halved 23. Kneel 24. Homecoming 25. Pearls 26. Origin

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