Appalachian Flood is Available from Amazon
“Recently a friend of mine from graduate school, Cindy Goff, a self-described Appalachian surrealist, self-published a volume of poems, Appalachian Flood, and is selling it on Amazon. Back in grad school, (we attended George Mason University in the early 90’s), Cindy and I used to do a variety of surrealist-inspired writing exercises. We had both been bitten by the bug of french surrealism and would lay on her rug, smoking cigarettes, free associating into a tape recorder, then playing it back and extracting our favorite lines, and then building those into poems. Cindy published individual poems in some quality magazines in the early 90’s, including Ploughshares and Exquisite Corpse, but after running into a wall of first book contests over and over, she took a hiatus from poetry writing. Now, over ten years later, she’s plunging back in, which makes me happy, as she has one of the richest imaginations I have ever encountered. Her work is raw, a little rough around the edges, but her imagery is deliciously irrational and intuitive, and there is an emotional river crackling under her strange surfaces. Here is “Child Molestation,” a 7-line poem, that is like no other I have seen on this subject.
I remember nothing
from eight to ten
except a sensation
like someone showing
old vampire movies on my body.
The poem is a single sentence, cut into five lines, delivered in simple language, yet it is also deeply mysterious and liable to send a chill up the rickety ladder of the reader’s spine. The poem creates a very disturbing, concrete image of a pre-adolescent girl being literally used as a screen, onto which old (seemingly black and white), monster movies are projected. In this case, the screen can feel what’s being projected onto it. The screen is alive. A movie screen is thin, almost transparent, which suggests the vulnerability of the child’s skin. A violation of this sort is certainly a projection on the perpetrator’s part. A screen is also powerless to influence what is projected upon it. There may also be something nuclear about this–how every single other memory for two whole years has been obliterated and replaced by this single image. The choice of vampire movies is not arbitrary. Vampires bite the victim’s delicate neck, suck out the life force, leave the smallest of wounds. This poem seems to fuse Surrealism and Confessional Poetry. *** For fans of wild imagery coupled with blasts of feeling, Cindy’s book is a must. It’s exactly the kind of necessary work that I fear is liable to slip through the cracks of the “prize-winner” contest system. If the idea of Robert Desnos being re-born as a woman in the 1960’s in the mountains of Southwest Virginia sounds interesting to you, then you will take great pleasure in this work.”
Review by poet Helen Victoria:
“These are not poems, they are confessions of trauma, an exposure to secrets. Cindy Goff draws us into her childhood, adolescence, and growing up in Appalachia (Virginia). The poems in Cindy Goff’s Appalachian Flood are raw, as slowly they uncover a story, they combine the surreal with what at times is all too real for the reader. In the poem, “Nothing Holds Me Here,” Ms. Goff writes: I shall return to night voices as if nothing ever happened As the reader, of these poems, something does happen, you change with each poem, as you are taken through and array of emotions and feelings… ready or not. In the poem, “Love Through a Rifle Scope,” Ms. Goff writes: Instead of dusting and straightening my house, I masturbate on the bluest pillow I can find and crawl to breakfast, blossoming These poems are primitive in a sense, love, with a combination of sexuality, sensuality and coming of age in rural Appalachia. The consistent use of vampire images in many of the poems, gives the reader that feeling, we all had as children, when we knew that monsters existed, but we had a hard time identifying them, so we lumped them together, confused them as family, as lovers, until we could identify them for what or who they really were…. Where perhaps one is forced to grow in ways beyond our own capacity or wills… later in the book, we are introduced to Sir, who at times is the vampire or at least conjures up the same feelings, memories… here love is perhaps at last found and lost, yet equally as turbulent, equally as mysterious. In the title poem, Appalachian Flood, Ms. Goff writes: Beneath the flood the earth is full like it never had a backbone. These poems are all backbone, and are of someone who has clearly survived a flood. This is poetry at its best, a gut punch in the dark, ready or not.”
My first grade teacher hit me with the bell curve because I drew
periods big enough to sit on. She put me in the slow corner with the son of an apple picker. We never spoke. We looked at pictures of beauticians and construction workers. Once he touched the back of my neck, and I began saying apple before every word: applewe applewould applelike appleto appleleave Appalachia. By spring, stems started poking through the son of
the apple picker’s skin, and he was taken out of school. By the process of elimination, I became my own baseball team.
“Everything I love about Goff’s poetry is displayed in the poem above, exerted without the author’s permission from her first book, Appalachian Flood. Many of her poems, while short in stature, are long on the same odd beauty as conatined in this sample. If Goff had lived in 1920’s Paris, there is little doubt in my mind that she would have been kicked out of the Surrealists by Breton, just like Desnos, Aulp, and all the others. And, as evidenced by her poetry, she would have deserved it, just like they did.”
“I was recently befriended on FB by a young poet from Appalachia named Cindy R. Goff. Despite her young age she has a number of publishing credits in her resume. I ordered her book, Appalachian Flood from Amazon.com and was quite impressed. I am a sucker for writers who create a real sense of place in their work and she clearly does that. In her narrative pieces such as ‘The First Sober Morning’ she draws a quirky, emotion-packed picture that reminds me of Ann Tyler. In pieces like ‘If Men Were Attracted to Women for Their Brains’ she uses smirking irony to great effect. I personally think we will hear more from this young lady.”
More information about Appalachian Flood:
Appalachian Flood is Available from Amazon