The Murderous Sky:
Poems of Madness and Mercy
100 Pages / Poetry
978-1944884741 (pbk. $19.95)
In The Murderous Sky Rosemary Daniell confronts with searing honesty and stunning poetry the pain of her daughter’s addiction and her son’s schizophrenia. Since giving us A Sexual Tour of the Deep South in 1975, Rosemary Daniell has published numerous other volumes of poetry, fiction and memoir, as well as shepherding the famous Zona Rosa writing workshops. She returns to poetry with what is perhaps her most personal and haunting book; winner of the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Poetry Award, The Murderous Sky: Poems of Madness & Mercy is a work that will resonate for decades to come.
Praise for The Murderous Sky
Rosemary Daniell is a national treasure.
—Bruce Feiler, New York Times-bestselling author of The Council of Dads and Life Is in the Transitions
Rosemary Daniell is an enormously gifted poet, novelist and non-fiction writer who has created an extraordinary body of work over the over the last two decades. Her work is risky––in the best sense of the term. She brings a poet’s language to her prose and great energy and daring to her poetry. She is one of the women by whom our age will be known in times to come. I can think of few writers I might recommend more whole-heartedly.
The world of poetry has just about recovered from the shock of a woman poet giving us A Sexual Tour of the Deep South in 1975. As a witness to the prolonged impact of Rosemary Daniell’s first, unique collection, I am astonished to be unprepared for the shock of reading The Murderous Sky…. Daniell’s new collection proves that the critic Warren Austin… was right when he wrote, “Art makes that beautiful which in life would be painful to view or even hear about.”
—David Madden, author of Marble Goddesses and Mortal Flesh
Rosemary Daniell is a supreme storyteller. Exploring the ordinary in verse, she makes it belong to us all. Taking up the rare with vivid metaphor. . . Daniell digs deep into subjects like suicide, drug addiction and abuse–but also love and tenderness. Read her!
—Linda Gray Sexton, author of Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton
It’s hard to say what makes Rosemary Daniell’s poetry ring so true, but it is certainly southern, totally honest, and empathic and it always has the right pitch. Whether she is laying bare the immense pain of her own daughter’s addiction, her son’s schizophrenia or of an idealist gone wrong, she is able to confront that pain and through words begin a process of healing that takes place in the reader’s own heart. Thus it is a kind of miracle…. It took courage to write these poems, and it takes courage to read them.
—Gordon Walmsley, editor of The Copenhagen Review and author of Braille of the Sea and other books
If the aura of poetry is colored from the poet’s palette of experience and observation, then The Murderous Sky, should be on display in galleries as well as in bookstores. It is that engaging, that powerful, and, yes, that visual…. It begins with these words: I had a daughter once— /beautiful & raven-haired… and what follows reads like a poetic excerpt from a revealing memoir, words of privacy that might be whispered in confessionals…. Indeed, this is a signature work from a writer of rare and beautiful talent. Only a true artist is so blessed and her name is Rosemary Daniell.
—Terry Kay, award-winning author of Dance with the White Dog and The Book of Marie
In this searing journey through a mother’s broken heart, Rosemary Daniell’s exquisitely wrought poems transmute suffering into splendor, unspeakable pain into echoing beauty, heralding redemption for both writer and readers.
—Joyce Zonana, author of Dream Homes: From Cairo to Katrina, an Exile’s Journey
The poems in Rosemary Daniell’s new book are beautiful and heartbreaking beyond any ordinary exclamation of words. She manages to find the perfect balance between sharing her experiences as the insider looking outward and the outsider looking inward, building a bridge between feeling and form in towering, gut-wrenching language. This is what poetry is meant to do, and The Murderous Sky: Poems of Madness & Mercy is what it looks like to do it well.
—Olivia Stiffler, author of Hiding in Plain Sight and Otherwise, We Are Safe
To read Rosemary Daniell’s poetry is to see the power of love do good and do harm. Yes, it is love that flows through these pages, like blood — the love between a mother and daughter, the love between a mother and son. While we’re reading poems that show us ‘how dangerous life is,’ we’re also witnessing sacred things: “a few yellow buds… this suddenly is enough.” Rosemary Daniell is the real thing. I marvel at the skill and imagination and honesty behind these stunning poems. I just cannot overpraise this book.
—Judy Goldman, author of Together: A Memoir of a Marriage and a Medical Mishap
These are not poems for the faint-hearted…. The Murderous Sky is power-filled, naked and excellent beyond words.
—Carol Ann Russell, award-winning poet and author of The Red Envelope, Silver Dollar and Gypsy Taxi
Amid the endless outpourings about the pains of love, how many deal with the love of a mother for her children? What happens when her dreams grow into realities too terrible to be believed or comprehended? Rosemary Daniell, with deep compassion for both sides, takes us into the world of parents and children struggling with drug addiction and mental illness. Like the Book of Job, this book has the courage to face realities larger and far less comfortable than we would like. But it also shows the power of true art to help us survive and transcend.
—Dan Veach, founder of the Atlanta Review and author of Elephant Water and Lunchboxes.
This moving and tumultuous collection of poetry scales the mountains of emotion bound up in motherhood and mental illness. Rosemary manages to tell us the story of her daughter and her son, their lineage, and the battles she’s fought, with lyric beauty and raw emotion. The reader will come away from this book with a deeper understanding of the ties that bind and tangle mother and child.
—Miriam Feldman, author of He Came in with It: A Portrait of Motherhood and Madness
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