Marianne Worthington divides Girl Singer into three distinct yet harmonious parts, cantillating local, familial, and personal histories across rural Appalachia. Unafraid of themes such as abuse, alcoholism, and death (natural or otherwise), the collection demonstrates a marked interest in the Gothic. Girl Singer embarks on a mission to offer unique insight on famous and infamous Appalachian tales from this life and the next. Girl Singer often blurs the lines between the historical and the romantic. Worthington pays special attention to musicians and the stories told within their songs. Locals or country music fans will recognize the names and histories documented here, but even those unfamiliar with these references will understand the intricacy and intimacy with which they are woven together. From Tom Dula to The Carters to Patsy Cline, Girl Singer not only documents this wealth of stories with care and accuracy, but it also dares to venture into the subjects’ innermost thoughts. The speaker places her personal life on the same level of importance as the subjects of local stories, elevating the collection from a simple report of facts into a work of art. With poems about birds and the moon, the collection also harbors an abundance of natural imagery. This imagery highlights the dramatic details of the speaker’s daily life, even within the mundane. The spirits of the speaker’s parents also follow her closely through her everyday life, even after their deaths. Her own family history dances among those of celebrities. The collection is as invested in the poet’s own life as it is in Appalachia as a whole.
Meet the Author
Marianne Worthington is a poet, editor, and cofounder of Still: The Journal, an online magazine that publishes literary, visual, and musical artists with ties to the Appalachian region. She lives and teaches in Southeastern Kentucky. Her work has appeared in Oxford American, CALYX, Grist, Shenandoah, The Louisville Review, Appalachian Heritage, Southern Poetry Anthology, Vinegar and Char: Southern Food in Verse, and others.