Make a Fist & tongue the knucles
by emily O'neill
Emily O'Neill is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of YesYes Books' Pamet River Prize. She is the author of two chapbooks: Celeris (Fog Machine, 2016) and You Can't Pick Your Genre (Jellyfish Highway, 2016). She teaches writing at the Boston Center for Adult Education and edits poetry for Wyvern Lit.
Emily's Make a Fist & Tongue the Knuckles comes prepared to finish the burial, sharing knives made from ruin to acknowledge the monsters dwelling in ourselves and others.
"Need to Know" has been nominated for 2016's Pushcart Prize !!
Praise for Make a Fist & Tongue the Knuckles
"The boys in Emily O'Neill's poems are softies but act like they're bad. The girls, however, don't pretend: 'Leave marks or I don't learn.' These poems fill with sensory data, knives and joy and fury, then zip past you at breakneck speed like the brightest fastest ride on the boardwalk. There is no standing still."
–Niina Pollari, Dead Horse (Birds LLC)
"To hear a version of yourself in the confessional—uncleaning a body much like your own. I’m terrible / at math & monogamy, / but I try exquisitely. It’s hard for me not to see Emily O’Neill’s poems as glowing, iridescent on the page—the dark of the pool after midnight with its cold water lapping at the edges. There are ways to get lost properly. But intimacy isn’t as simple as a freckle colony or a hip surfacing from the tightest pair of jeans. The want or need to hold that stranger’s hand as they lead you further into the bar. What I mean is O’Neill isn’t the tongue or the fist. She’s the hand. To properly read these poems requires an honest look at yourself with no apologies to be made. Unburden your knuckles / of expectation. Undress… What I mean is, toast to these poems at your next awful brunch."
–Alexis Pope, That Which Comes After (Big Lucks, forthcoming)
"it is less that emily o’neill is an architect & more that there is an understanding she maintains. between herself & words & dark things & us, the ones listening. chapbooks are buildings or homes or maybe they, the good ones, this one, make a fist & tongue the knuckles, is just they way it feels when someone gives you the most perfect poster. one they bought you because they were thinking of you, not because it’s your birthday or anything."
“Things are just nothings. People hurt each other with these things hurt themselves with these things yet are charged in full for the privilege. Bodies swim through these things, dresses, various articles of clothing. Cleanliness can’t happen with such stuff as the stuff loses importance as it increases in scope and size. Hunger for wisdom refuses to accept materialism as an answer. Wonderlands are surprisingly sparse for some for the right ones. Sin too can be awfully minor to count as sin.”