Pelican by Emily O’Neill (A Review)

Sundog Blog

112 pages | $16

O’Neill knows how to listen to language, to tease out all the possibilities it has to offer (after all, she claims to owe her poetic education to the Cantab Louge in Cambridge, home of the Boston Poetry Slam, and what better space is there to learn how to load each word like a weapon?). Her list of publications and awards then comes as no surprise: Pelican won the Pamet River Prize from YesYes Books, and “de los Muertos,” included in the collection, was selected by Jericho Brown as the winner of the Gigantic Sequins’ second annual poetry contest. This debut collection does confirm that hers is a voice to watch, a voice urgent and impressive in its accuracy.

Death and loss permeate each and every poem in Pelican, but Emily O’Neill doesn’t do maudlin: she gives new edges to an…

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