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“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald
Why I Write
It’s wonderful to have a job that doesn’t feel like work. I am often in contact, through my work, with groups who have no voice. Sometimes it is the Afghan woman who is forbidden to get an education; sometimes it is the lonely senior citizen with so much to say and no one to listen; sometimes it is the prison inmate who has finally learned to “unlock an irreparable heart” and, through poetry, realize freedom emotionally if not physically. One thing they all have in common is that they want connection; a human touch, human understanding. They want someone to hear them, because they have something to say.
In my poems I give voice to people whose voices have been silenced; I want my poems to speak many languages, not just my own. What I love most is hearing someone interpret a poem I’ve written in a totally different way than I intended. I write for the sheer joy and passion of it.
A poem is an anonymous gift to an anonymous recipient; and when you’re finished with it, it doesn’t belong to you anymore, it belongs to someone else.
—Karl Shapiro, in a letter to Leo Connellan
Like the bar siren of the opening poem, this sweeping collection lures the reader in with trailblazing wit, wisdom, and on-the-ledge characters who tell it like it is. Particularly affecting are meditative poems about eccentrics doing what it takes to feel alive or approaching death with acceptance and humor. In the “Living Will,” an aggrieved woman dons a red dress and sashays to a nursing home to "try to revive the dead/living there.” Pat Mottola’s soaring elegies resurrect the voices of the oppressed––from Billie Holiday to Eve. Indeed, the book draws power from the motley of urgent stories it unearths—from slaves to celebrities to the poet's grandfather—in lines accessible and enlightening at every turn. In "The Old Couple," a loving husband tends his garden knowing his forgetful wife “will not bloom/again.” These slice-of-life narratives bear the heft and depth of novels chiseled down to poems that mirror who we are.
––Rayon Lennon, winner of the 2017 Rattle Poetry Prize; and author of Barrel Children
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Under the Red Dress
As if guided by William Matthew’s “Love needs to be set alight again and again,” Pat Mottola’s physical and memorable poems cause us to remember people who might otherwise be forgotten. By describing women who wear red fish net stockings and men who buy them drinks, she reclaims ordinary lives by showing how people are all looking for some form of human contact. Particularly moving are poems about her mother who never “caught up to Gloria Steinem or Betty Friedan” and her father who fought in WWII and “could not escape the stench of Auschwitz.” Throughout Under the Red Dress, Mottola’s love of her subjects darts in and out, slippery as the fish caught by her fishmonger, a Vietnam vet with PTSD. Pat Mottola’s poems will help keep the human fire alive as long as there is breath to sustain it because of her hard won knowledge that what will endure is the human heart and that love’s power can redeem even those returning from war in jungles and labeled “damaged goods.” ~Vivian Shipley, author of The Poet and Perennial read more
You can purchase this book on Amazon
follow this link: Under the Red Dress