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Nicelle Davis’s powerful debut poetry collection, Circe, masterfully chronicles the complex inner life of this all too human enchantress from Greek mythology. Primarily narrated by Circe herself, the book records her post-Odysseus “withdrawal”… Her laments are interrupted and enriched by a series of poems voiced by a bevy of canny and dangerous sirens. Their incantatory “recipes” produce a provocative admixture of visceral wisdom and sensual bravado… Circe is a deeply moving, endlessly inventive, and enlightening exploration into the terrors of abandonment, the ageless plight of aggrieved women, and the bittersweet and sustaining powers of love. Nicelle Davis has given us an entirely new and riveting version of Circe, a woman painfully scorned, whose path towards healing leads her into a greater awareness of herself.
—Maurya Simon, author of Cartographies
Nicelle Davis’ work emerges from the origins of light and fire, quickly, wildly and with cracks from which tendrils emerge, a longing for sense to be made for those left behind by Odysseus, those sirens, singing gasps of poetry. This poetry wills the reader into a time/space where light burns and language runs off the edge of the world.
—Kate Gale, author of Mating Season
“To fight the quiet, I talk to my selves,” Circe says. Nicelle Davis’s poems are the manysided chorus of that complicated character: passionate and resigned, angry and forgiving. They shimmer with Circe’s energy and despair, and, most of all, with her love: for her son, for Odysseus, finally even for his wife Penelope. Not least, Davis’s vibrant language is a love song for us, her readers and listeners, “entering me with my eye / in your palm—seeing my face, not / as a void, but a window.”
—Dawn Potter, author of How the Crimes Happened
“There was never enough about the sirens,” says the foreword to Nicelle Davis’s book of poems, which then remedies that omission by giving voice to the “other woman” of the Odyssey. “I thought love would swallow pain,” says Circe, whose Homeric version turns her enemies into animals. The magic in Nicelle Davis’s poems, however, is the blend of anger, regret, and love that spurs them—the complicated brew that poetry exists to make clear.
—Natasha Saje, author of Bend