MadHat Press

The Out-of-Body Shop by Nancy Mitchell

Praise for The Out-of-Body Shop

Whether homing in on the “blank, bright/as black lacquer” eye of a dead bird, the “scavenger-scattered/cryptic ghost script across the snow,” or the fireflies she mistakes for the father’s materialized threat “to burn//every single weed/into the goddam dirt,” Mitchell leaves no shade of grief or beauty unexamined. Rigorously crafted, these emotionally evocative poems probe what lies below veneers, beyond smoke screens, beneath the relentless pull of memories. They wrestle with the paradox of being at once “in the body, but not/of the body” and release their energy like the sacred “lit/sweet grass/braid” mourners pass hand-to-hand at a friend’s burial ceremony. The Out-of-Body Shop is transfixing and transformative.
—Mihaela Moscaluic, author of Immigrant Model

Drifting tantalizingly between the vivid, piercing particularity of personal memory and the unanchored intimacy of philosophical reflection, The Out-of-Body Shop bridges the distance between body and mind and reminds the reader that to be human is to live, always, in the vibrant space between. Nancy Mitchell is a high priestess of the art, and this book is not to be missed.
—Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine

Nancy Mitchell has written a book of ghosts, of family long and recently gone, of friends, both the actual dead and those lost (as yet) merely to distance and our myriad contemporary distractions. “We like one another,” Mitchell says, “we have emojis.”—This rare yoking of irony and true feeling is shot through the book. The poems too are ghosts, partial and startling, often leaving the reader with a single, primary color feeling, melded to sensory detail. As in the poem, “Ghost Smoke,” where the poet is wakened in the middle of the night by the smell of cigarette smoke. Though not entirely awake, and no one in the house has smoked for years, the poet recognizes the scent—it’s the brand her dead mother favored, “Ginny Skinnies, she called them.” These are the poems of a romantic all grown up, a lover who has broken through successive layers of illusion and now entertains the visitations of romance, in all its forms, as a sober adult. Such romance is no longer limited to the realm of bodily experience, and the book ranges through events of the past and the present with egalitarian ease. After reading thorough these skillful, haunted (and haunting) poems, one realizes the aptness of the title: the book itself is an “Out-of-Body Shop,” where the soul is no longer constrained by time and space, and goes where it must for healing, restitution, and love.
—Jeffrey Skinner, author of Chance Divine

Nancy Mitchell’s tour-de-force The Out-of-Body Shop looks into the “unbearable lightness of being” and does not flinch. The Southern Gothic landscape of her familial history is filled with ghosts that have followed into the present moment remembering, along with the poems, the bodily split of human trauma. Mitchell’s poems illustrate the great Truth that “the retro-fit of the body depends on remembering—.” This highly anticipated third volume illustrates how, exactly, the otherworldly resides within us and outside of us right inside the tender lyric, blooming of things. “The Out-of-Body Shop” is the place we all come to to be born a new, piece by piece, the long letting go that is the sun shining in through the kitchen window in morning.
—Elizabeth Powell, author of Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter

Making use of wide-ranging poetic strategies, from jagged, consonant-filled lyrics to gothic Frost-like narratives, Nancy Mitchell tells a startling story of a woman’s survival. In the course of this journey she mercilessly moves through and beyond the pain and grief of damaged, impoverished family life, transforming her speaker’s powerlessness to a state of grace, a humane hope in the possibility of change.
—Ira Sadoff


Paperback: 76 pp.
Publisher: Madhat, Inc. (June 15, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-941196-71-7


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