The Minor Territories by Danielle Sellers

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 85 pgs.
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The Minor Territories by Danielle Sellers explores the uninhabited emotional landscapes scarred by loss and trauma. Many of us live our lives as best we can even if the past haunts us, but those memory ghosts are not the places where we live in the now and they are not the places we choose to remember. These are the places that shape us into who we are, determine our strength, and force us to reassess our own outlooks and life paths.

From "A Photo of the Euphrates" (pg. 16)

Since then, his tongue has changed
the river's story. He's killed strangers
on its shore. I imagine him lying
on the dusty floor of a marble palace
at sundown, breathing red air,
waiting for the comfort night gives.
"When Asked to Say Something Nice About My Ex-Husband" (pg. 59)

I recall his chest, how sometimes he tolerated
my head on it, strong as a door
skimming the surface of a dark ocean.

In a deeply personal collection in which she shares words from her own daughter about her absent father, Sellers explores the pain deeply, attentively until a hope emerges, whether in the comfort of the night air in a war zone or the smell of yeast while baking bread and waiting. Her images are vivid and juxtapose the emotional ups and downs of being in love with a soldier and finding them changed after war. Mourning the loss of the person they used to be and yet loving them still. Moving forward in life without them because you must to emotionally survive. Sellers’ poems are love letters filled with heartbreak, love, and so much more — forgiveness.

The Minor Territories by Danielle Sellers is a story told through poems and like all stories leaves a powerful impression in the sand, but it is one that cannot be erased by the tides of time, only partially worn down.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

About the Poet:

Danielle Sellers is from Key West, FL. She has an MA from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of Mississippi where she held the John Grisham Poetry Fellowship. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Subtropics, Smartish Pace, The Cimarron Review, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. Her first book, Bone Key Elegies, was published by Main Street Rag. She teaches Literature and Creative Writing at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mailbox Monday #479

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what we received:

The Minor Territories by Danielle Sellers, which I purchased.

In Danielle Sellers’ The Minor Territories, a past has never really passed, it follows you from state to state and across continents; its memories are as fresh as the revelations of old love letters, those missives so full of missing. Every poem feels so rich with intimate potential, from the unspoken truths between two people to the most fragile details of a shared life—a spider’s silky filaments, peach tree saplings, butter coppering in a pan. This book manages to hold with an open hand all the loves I want and fear to lose—the ones who knew me, the one who knows me, the one who grew from the past into the brightest now.
—Traci Brimhal, author of Saudade

The Minor Territories, the second collection from Danielle Sellers, powerfully affirms the practice of keen and patient seeing. Time and again in these poems, life deals pain, but the poet pays attention until pain gives way to curiosity and curiosity to gratitude. Winter strips the willows, yes, but “through their bare branches / a church spire. Were it spring, I would have not seen it.” A little girl waits all day on a porch for her long-lost father. “He never returns,” but she does glimpse “three monarchs / and a praying mantis.” In one poem, the speaker says of her lover, “I wanted him / to see me. Really see me.” While the pain of going unseen racks the world of this book, Sellers takes care to see whatever has been missed, to really see it. To borrow a phrase from Yeats, everything here has been steeped in the heart.
—Greg Brownderville, author of A Horse with Holes in It

Danielle Sellers’ The Minor Territories is intellectually lush and emotionally resonant. Sellers is a born storyteller, and this book, in the end, is a succession of love stories that reveal, over its course, a deep, surprising, and complicated love between the speaker and the world she makes and remakes for herself. These poems are necessary, dynamic, heartbreaking, redemptive, and smart. They bring you in, hold you close, and tell the truth.
—Carrie Fountain, author of Burn Lake

What did you receive?