|BROADSTONE BOOKS presents books by
In the title poem, poet Melody Davis is both driving a car and navigating a life as
she describes "the ride that carries us, holding the curve." In this volume we are all
along for the ride, traversing a poetic landscape drawn from such diverse worlds as
a Latino neighborhood in Brooklyn and the author's native Perry County,
Pennsylvania. Nothing escapes her notice, and through her words the details of
everyday life - a vacuum cleaner, empty jars, her aunts' kitchen sinks - and the lives
everyday people on the subway or at the luncheonette counter, all achieve a
Praise for Melody Davis & Holding the Curve
The poems in this refreshing book are made from basic materials, from the things
our hands touch in an ordinary day - a steering wheel, a kitchen sink, a potato, a
sock. Quietly these poems take the world on its own terms. They are not laden with
angst or despair or longing for some so-called better life. The life is happening now,
and that is worthy of poetry. Eventually Melody Davis's poems imply on on-going
meditation on art, how calmly and inexplicably it enters the world, and how
suddenly it seems to be life.
— Maurice Manning
These poems shine. This is a rousing collection - elegiac, pensive, sparked by the
telling detail, the spot-on phrasing. Melody Davis is a careful observer of life’s
fraught and beautiful dailiness, and of its inherent nearness to poetry.
— Frederick Smock
|Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Paperback, 88 pages
For Melody Davis, poetry and art history are similar
ways to chase ghosts.
In addition to her Broadstone titles, Davis is the
author of two other poetry collections, The Center of
Distance and One Ground Beetle (with Harold
Lohner), and three studies in the history of art: The
Male Nude in Contemporary Photography; Women’s
Views: The Narrative Stereograph in Nineteenth-
Century America; and the forthcoming e-book,
Sentiment and Irony: the Stereoscopic Treasures of
F. G. Weller.
She has been the recipient of a National Endowment
for the Arts senior fellowship in poetry and a
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship in
Creative Nonfiction. She was a finalist in the National
Holding the Curve
|Publication Date: May 1, 2019
Paperback, 80 pages
The dictionary tells us that a “ghost writer” is one who writes for and gives credit to
another as author, but the matter is not so straightforward in Melody Davis’s latest
poetry collection. Who are the ghosts here, and who the writer?
The book begins with poems about her mother in old age, raging against her confine-
ment in a nursing home and in her own declining body, still demanding autonomy,
hurling accusations over transgressions imagined and recalled – in short, as we say
of our elderly, “losing it.” But most poignantly, perhaps, “losing her words,” leaving
Davis to attempt to speak for her and with her across a widening gulf.
It’s an all too common story, facing the aging and death of parents, and in the process
confronting the prospect of our own eventual decline and demise. But out of this
common experience, Davis has shaped an uncommon meditation on the way we live
with our ghosts, how they speak through us. How we don’t die all at once, and we
don’t stay dead.
In the middle section of the book, “The Hors d'Oeuvrerie,” she speaks for the dead
of 9/11, or rather sings:
Sing of ash, the smell of burning fat, bloodIn the final section Davis returns to personal past, personal ghosts. “I miss hearing
scattered like petals on glinting cement,
the way sand drinks in whatever we give it.
Sing of the bodies treated as body,
the soul tight as green fruit to its stone.
Living in fear, raise up your hands and sing.
With the choir of hatred, sing the shot.
Sing post-truth and poetry's epitaph.
Like a screaming angel, sing.
the truth which can only / be found in bars and beauty parlors” she writes, even if
many of those truths are painful, abuse witnessed and survived, nostalgia filtered
through a haze of cigarette smoke. “A chip in the tan formica table” holds “history”
of what is “missing missing missing.” The process of “Quilt Repair” connects her to
the one who made it,
All day long my grandmother's with me,
my stitches white on her white.
I try to place them perfectly,
like bodies at noon, without
shadow, but I shift a little here and there,
so that the seams, hers and mine,
are sometimes in unison
sometimes side by side,
beat and echo.
In the final poem, appropriately, Davis returns to memories of her mother, and of
Mother would snatch me from forever, into the car, letting everything go,
needing to believe in leprechauns, pots of gold, and a future enlarged by
refraction, the sky its giant drive-in theater, where we could watch our lives
billowing greater than any one house, and streets of endless revision ran on
and on in the story of color….
“Do you believe in ghosts?” Davis asks at one point. You will, as you read these
poems and encounter a haunted world, where our ghosts continue to live through us,
writing us into existence, and out of it.
Praise for Melody Davis & Ghost Writer
Melody Davis’s timely new book, Ghost Writer, is a saga no family wants to own,
told in brave, yet elegant, language. Its stories travel generations, beginning with the
awful ending of the mother, lost to dementia. In “Dancing the baby to sleep” Davis
recalls the smells, the rhythm of a child’s gentle going to sleep: “Long time ago I
knew that smell. / It rocked me in the marrow dance / and sang to sleep the pretty
bones.” But the gentle rocking is displaced as the poem abruptly ends with “A wound
is rhyme. / I knew that smell, it kept my time.” In “Spring” the narrator is a child
watching her father beat her mother and “going wood.” Ghost Writer is a necessary
read, both recognizable and terrifying.
— Bertha Rogers, Poet & Translator
Melody Davis has written a poignant history of family struggle and loss.
— Lee Meitzen Grue
Cover art by Harold Lohner, used by permission.
Poetry Series and a fellow in American Art from the Henry Luce Foundation and the
American Council of Learned Societies. She has published and read her poetry
Davis is an Associate Professor of Art History at Russell Sage College and lives in the
Albany NY area.