Chronicling her father’s battle with failing health and dementia, the author’s book contains two dozen poems that examine the physical and emotional side of the condition. While Grellas’ father is the one directly impacted by his health, the case of dementia is one that spreads to the entire family. Capturing the emotional turmoil and battle of wills entailed in being the caregiver for one’s own parent, each of these poems offers rays of hope and commiseration for the harder struggles. These poems are not meant to inspire pity or condolences but rather illuminate the feelings and internal dialogue of a person doing everything they can to will a parent back to good health and better days.
Depending on one’s circumstances, these poems will either be eye-opening or aim straight for the heartstrings and memories. Written with a vocabulary that captures every heart swell and crushed hope, the selections are short but make a deep, lasting impact. The poet’s choice of words is light to the point of being ghostly, but underneath feathery metaphors lies the ultimate weight of inevitable mortality. Each poem lies in a sequence that tells a story of good days and eventual decline, ending on the necessity to move on while always remembering. Because of the in-the-moment perspective in these poems, this book may be difficult for someone going through a similar scenario as the author had but should still provide light and catharsis once the struggle of caregiving has ended. Nearly pocket-sized and well able to be read in just an hour or so, this short collection of poems is no less emotional for its brevity.
The ability to visualize another world is a writer’s great gift – a gift evident in the poetry of Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas. On the Edge of the Ethereal, her latest is the collection, is a dark and beautiful book filled marvelously with the nature of loss, pain and its evasion, leaving, things left unsaid, “inhaling a world gone wrong,” as she writes in “Elegy with a Vision in the Room.” Grellas is a remarkable poet with an unflinching eye and ear for details. The writing is a powerful, rewarding journey, and not to be missed.
Sam Rasnake, editor of Blue Fifth Review
These poems weave together the layers of intensity between love and grief, many of them exploring latitudes of acute experience where joy and sadness are two sides of the same coin. This is not a collection of elegies in a traditional sense, but rather a devotion on cherishing the beauty of those we love in the face of mortality. Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas conveys an ephemeral mood of enchantment, where loved ones are cherished and even bereavement aspires to a state of grace.
On the Edge of the Ethereal is a powerful collection of poetry by Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas. Poems like “Getting over a Suicide / Daughter's Project” and “October at the Funeral” tear down into the reader's heart and wrench a flurry of grief, pain, and ruin. The author makes us feel heavy, gut-punching us as we move through each page. On the Edge is a wonderfully written book, one that is all too powerful to read through once.
Weasel, The Dude of Weasel Press and Author of “We Don't Make It Out Alive”
aced with the elegance and spirituality of well-honed traditional and invented forms, Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas's new collection Alice in Ruby Slippers is an adult's romp through the surreal Wonderland we call life. Just as Lewis Carroll's Alice struggled with the myriad denizens down the rabbit hole, Carol Lynn's Alice, perhaps Carol herself, navigates a deeply poetic landscape of death-lost, gained, and unrequited love-terminal illness, troubled ancestry, and all that makes this world a place we should simultaneously cherish and fear. Alice in Ruby Slippers is a wonderfully imagistic search for sense in the crumbling ruin of our known world. And a wonderful addition to Stevenson's poetic menagerie.
-Indigo Moor, Poet Laureate Emeritus, Sacramento, CA
Alice in Ruby Slippers begs to be read aloud to an audience or a lonely room. These poems lean toward icons of the familiar in a voice we want to draw nearer to. Grellas finds the sweet spot between cadence and language, where rhyme feels unforced and inviting; her poems feel comfortable, gently complex, and warmly nostalgic.
-Glenn Lyvers; Prolific Press.
Alice in Ruby Slippers is intense, full of depth and beautiful yet haunting imagery in these poems plucked from the aching silences and shadows of darkness and grief to speak their most sincere and vulnerable truths.
-Debbie Berk, Founder / Editor, The Stray Branch
Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas lives and writes in California. She has won the Red Ochre Press Chapbook contest with her manuscript Before I Go to Sleep. She has authored several chapbooks along with her latest full-length collection of poems, Hasty Notes in No Particular order (Aldrich Press). According to family lore, she is a direct descendant of Robert Louis Stevenson.
Things I Can't Remember to Forget is a beautiful collection of thoughtful poems, full of ripe femininity and purposeful language that cuts Grellas from the pack. She is a unique voice, careful and precise, demonstrating a surety of expression and style that allows the reader to step through the veil and into the deeply raw world that only Grellas can show us. She is a pure soul, unhidden, something we rarely see today. If you have stood in front of the World Peace Bell in Kentucky, with its 73,000 pounds of aching reverberation, something felt through your core, rattling your spine, unhinging your jaw, then you might have an inkling of the power Grellas presses into the hearts of her readers. These poems ring, and once rung, cannot be unheard. Buy this book.
Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas’s voice reaches us clearly, yet as if in a dream, in “List Poem without Prejudice:”
Once the radio sounded better in a blue Ford station wagon when music was amplified by tearsand several puffs from your father’s cigarettewafted your way through cloudslong after he died.
The book’s title makes no bones what sort of a ride you’re in for, a signal reaffirmed in titles of Grellas’s individual poems like “In the Emptying of Pockets,” or “You’re Dying, Darling.” Grellas does not disappoint, in this unflinching collection singed with emotion, and bristling with small but trenchant detail.
"In the Making of Goodbyes" explores every aspect of loss and death in heartbreakingly beautiful language. The poet weaves nature throughout and uses small homely details such as a flower’s scent or the smell of a man’s cigarette, the sound of wind chimes, with which any reader will be able to identify and feel familiar to his or her own experience. For someone who has lost both parents, this book is a hymnal on how to learn to live with that loss and to keep on
Poetry aficionados, aspiring and accomplished poets alike, will find inspiration in Grellas' poems, seamless, accessibly delivered, and engaged in the legacy of a formal construct that is as revealing and mysterious as the poems themselves. In 'Give-up-the-ghost' the poet affirms her understanding of temporal vs. eternal, the dream world in between, the laborious and often emotionally fraught maze of mortal living and, the belief, or at least the hope, that 'my spirit will transcend/unlocking me so I'm no longer pinned/reborn into an iridescent wind.’
~ Margot Brown is a 2011 Pushcart Prize Nominee, the author of Leave of Absence (Pink Petticoat Press, 2011), and editor, co-editor, and guest editor of multiple anthologies by Fortunate Childe Publications (2009-2012).
Carol Lynn Grellas is a three-time Pushcart nominee and the author of A Thousand Tiny Sorrows, soon to be released from March Street Press and two chapbooks: Litany of Finger Prayers, Pudding House Press and Object of Desire, Finishing Line Press. She is widely published in magazines and online journals including most recently, The Centrifugal Eye, Oak Bend Review and deComp, with work upcoming in OVS and Saw Palm Florida Literature and Art. She lives with her husband, five children, and a little blind dog who sleeps in the bathtub.
Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is a six-time Pushcart nominee, Best of the Net nominee, and the 2012 winner of the Red Ochre Press Chapbook contest with her entry Before I Go to Sleep. She has authored several collections of poetry and her work has appeared in a wide variety of online and print magazines including The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, War, Literature and the Arts; The Department of English at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Able Muse, Poets and Artists, and many more. According to family lore, she is a direct descendent of Robert Louis Stevenson.
Carol Lynn Grellas is a six-time Pushcart nominee and 2010 Best of the Net nominee. She is the author of five chapbooks, Breakfast in Winter (Flutter Press 2010) Litany of Finger Prayers (Pudding House Press 2009) Object of Desire (Finishing Line Press 2008), A Thousand Tiny Sorrows (March Street Press 2010), and two electronic chaps: Desired Things (Goldwake Press 2009) To the Children (Victorian Violet Press 2010) The Butterfly Room (Big Table Publishing ) Carol Lynn's latest collection of poems: Epistemology of an Odd Girl, is forthcoming from March Street Press.