Other Possible Lives by Chrissy Kolaya

Source: the poet
Paperback, 80 pgs.
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Other Possible Lives by Chrissy Kolaya is an exploration of what if — the nature of the other and what it must be to immerse ourselves in those “other” lives. Would they make us long for our own lives more and appreciate them with grace? Or would an exploration of those lives lead us to make drastic changes in our own? These are just some of the questions that underlie these scenarios, ranging from the troubled house sitters in the opening of the collection to the forlorn lover at the end who is bound to make the same error again.

From "How to Leave Behind" (pg. 15)

She said the way to do it was
to look at a photo of them.
Look at it until their faces
melt away into lines,
until words like brother fall away

and swirl around the shape that's left.
To focus on the mouth,
then the eyes,
then the arms and legs as if they all belonged
to different people.

Kolaya’s poems are rooted in the possible lives we could have and allows us to examine the truth of those lives and the truth in our own lives. Other Possible Lives by Chrissy Kolaya answers our “what if” questions but leaves us with so much more. There’s a greater insight here hearkening back to the adage “the grass is always greener on the other side’ at least from where you are viewing it.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Chrissy Kolaya is a poet and fiction writer, author of Charmed Particles: a novel and two books of poems: Any Anxious Body and Other Possible Lives (forthcoming fall 2019). Her work has been included in the anthologies New Sudden Fiction (Norton), Fiction on a Stick (Milkweed Editions), and Stone, River, Sky: An Anthology of Georgia Poems, as well as in a number of literary journals.

She has received a Norman Mailer Writers Colony summer scholarship, an Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies fellowship, a Loft Mentor Series Award in Poetry, and grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Lake Region Arts Council, and the University of Minnesota. As one of the co-founders of the Prairie Gate Literary Festival, she worked to develop the literary arts community in rural western Minnesota. She now teaches creative writing at the University of Central Florida.

Mailbox Monday #545

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Other Possible Lives by Chrissy Kolaya for review.

Grappling with the consequences of real and imagined choices, Chrissy Kolaya’s Other Possible Lives gives us a world of shifting landscapes, of missing girls and temporary homes. With devastating detail, the poems trace the tumultuous geographies of everyday life and love in flux. These poems offer up glimpses of alternate endings, of the freezing and thawing of love, leaving us to wander a world full of possibilities, where “everything was about to happen.”

Vandana Khanna, author of The Goddess Monologues, Afternoon Masala, and Train to Agra

What would you see if you could remove the fourth wall of every house, every apartment, every building on the block and peer in unseen at the tangle of criss-crossing human relationships as they unfold or unravel or disintegrate over time? What if you could do the same thing with your own life, and apprehend the what ifs and might’ve beens, the various lives that you could’ve lead—and still might—instead? In Chrissy Kolaya’s psychologically sparkling and suspenseful Other Possible Lives, the reality of the situation is never like TV, it’s unpredictable, unproduced and wooly/nuanced—full of bliss, infidelity, faux pas, complication. These often painterly (and very contemporary, American) poems present us with the recognizable uncertainty of (the) character inside all of us. Here, the domestic and the social, the public and the private, splinter into each other, to present a dynamic vision of marriage, family, and ordinary life—teetering like a sound on the edge of breakup, not quite distorted and not quite clean, but one we can see (and certainly feel) when we look.

Matt Hart, author of Everything Breaking/For Good and The Obliterations

In Chrissy Kolaya’s Other Possible Lives, people constellate, disperse, come back together again, the space between them charged and dreamlike. All the possible lives and all possible endings shapeshift on the page, and what binds both these lives and this book is a tenderness almost too true to bear. This is gorgeous and glowing work.

Kerri Webster, author of The Trailhead, Grand & Arsenal, and We Do Not Eat Our Hearts Alone

The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis for review.

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters—the Brontë sisters—learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines—it’s seeing what is not there.”

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril…

What did you receive?