Bitter Acoustic

Sharon Fagan McDermott

Winner of the Jacar Press Chapbook Contest

A woman’s yearning and the inevitable losses of a life take shape, find meaning in the rejuvenating power of the natural world, and the rich textures of language.

“Here is poetry that insists on music not only heard but palpable, the physicality of language and the beauty of that body. In the ‘ice pizzicato,’ ‘petrified spirals of delft blue,’ and keening and splintering glass of the intense opening poem, ‘Icicle Suite,’ we are let into the ‘song of the odd dream.’ This and the poems that follow are mystery and clarity together, and a medicine for hearing, however bitter, as well as emotion embodied, a tactile grace. From the winter snows of the first section, changeable and audible, to the ‘sloe gin of summer twilight’ in the turn of the second section, these packed lyrics win us toward a vision. McDermott remembers the old magic: poetry as memorable language. Bitter Acoustic is a making so genuine, so original, so true it takes the breath away.”

Betty Adcock, Slantwise (LSU Press)

“Sharon McDermott has an acute musical ear, and the life of sound, and how it intensifies feeling, is everywhere in Bitter Acoustic. ‘Then drizzle blew the night to pins’ is an instance early in these pages. The book, for me, begins in blues, rueful, not self-pitying; wise, but caught. Then in the second part of the book, the ground begins to shift: the poetry itself seems happy to be joyful, and gains life from it. A hard-earned, beautiful book.”

Jean Valentine, National Book Award Winner