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November 2016
104 pages  

6 x 9
9780822964315
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Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes
Dumesnil, Cheryl
The poems in Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes are survival songs, the tunes you whistle while walking through the Valley of Shadows, to keep your fears at bay and your spirit awake.

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Cheryl Dumesnil’s books include the 2008 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize winner, In Praise of Falling, the memoir Love Song for Baby X: How I Stayed (Almost) Sane on the Rocky Road to Parenthood, and the anthology Dorothy Parker’s Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos, co-edited with Kim Addonizio.
“Cheryl Dumesnil transforms the seemingly useless—the discarded, the broken off, what we keep in the kitchen drawer—into proof of our humanity, asserting that it’s to the things of this world, whether they be oil-slicked puddles, cathedrals, tampons or Pink Floyd, that our lives are anchored. These poems are as tactile as that kitchen junk drawer and just as rewarding to rummage through. Each poem begs to be picked up, turned over in the palm.”—Dorianne Laux

“Dumesnil’s precise observations, vivid images, deft humor, and brave willingness to invite in the whole of life, makes for a poetry that’s rich and meaningful. This collection gives us the world with its beauty and love and the loss that always hovers close.”—Ellen Bass

“Dumesnil navigates the hallways of illness and childbirth with grit and grace. She offers us soaring birds, revolutions and plums. This is a book full of the love of women and sons, drag queens and last calls, and always the gospel of the body, and its constant prayer of falling.”—Sean Thomas Dougherty, author of All You Ask for is Longing: Poems 1994-2014

“What the poet knows is this: there are no lost causes. There is loss, of course, but to love enough to take up a cause is to keep faith. Dumesnil’s collection is the good fight in miserable times; it is how we endure knowing that part of us always / stays back, while the rest marches on. This fabulous book is the part marching on.”—John Hoppenthaler

"And that's the core of these poems, really, the quotidian disasters-divorce, illness, common as mud-and yet the resilience, the impulse to regroup, move forward, persist, endure. What's so lovely about Dumesnil's poetry is not just the inventiveness with language, the vivid images, but a kind of 'attitude' that suffuses the work, partaking in a kind of wisdom, captured so concisely in her epigraph from Lao Tzu: 'Do you have the patience to wait till your mind settles and the water is clear?' Dumesnil is patient indeed and sees right to the bottom of the pond."—Ragazine

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The poems in Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes are survival songs, the tunes you whistle while walking through the Valley of Shadows, to keep your fears at bay and your spirit awake. The shadows here are many—cancer, poverty, a lost love, famine, suicide, war, an ever-encroaching existential angst. But so are the saving graces—a drag queen waitress whose “painted-on eyebrows arched like a bridge / toward starlight,” “strawberries / grown fat around dimpled gold seeds,” Pink Floyd’s “‘On the Turning Away’ sent through my car / radio like the ghost voice of a beloved long dead,” black phoebes rattling “winter / thistles, swollen throats percussing: / this is this is this is . . . ” Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes reminds us that where there is shadow there must, necessarily, also be light.
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