What Magick May Not Alter
by JC Reilly
978-1-948692-30-4 paper 18.95
978-1-948692-31-1 ebook 9.99
6×9, 144 pp.
Read What Magick May Not Alter on a porch swing by a live oak if you can. This layered Southern fantasy is unlike any you’ve read before. Real world issues like the prevalence of the KKK, sexual assault, manslaughter, alcoholism, and complex family dynamics move the plot into emotionally treacherous and painfully real places. Twin sisters Lulah and Vi anchor this story of a magically gifted family told through poetry. Set in early nineteen-hundreds Louisiana, the choice to tell this story in verse sets it apart, making it feel like a spell book or a manifesto at times. Emotion sings through it clear and strong, as in this pivotal passage when Talulah visits Vidalia:
She smiles as she slips
the doll in a pocket and begins a song
in a language that hovers somewhere
between the voices of flowers
and the timbre of wind.
Lulah joins in then,
in made-up words of her own.
A Louisiana writer living in Atlanta, Georgia, JC Reilly writes across genres and has received Pushcart and Wigleaf nominations for her work, as well as awards from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, the Georgia Poetry Society, and the Louisiana Division of the Arts. She is the author of the chapbook La Petite Mort and a contributing author to an anthology of occasional verse, On Occasion: Four Poets, One Year. Follow her @aishatonu.
Set in the American South, after the Civil War, in the time of lynchings and KKK, JC Reilly’s spellbinding narrative-in-verse follows the lives of Sibley women, who “are gifted in magicks”. With charms and spells of storytelling these incredibly beautiful poems create for us the world of folklore and heartbreak, as we watch Sibleys trace their way through history, falling in love, conjuring future husbands, attending funerals, and whispering curses at lying men & incantations for survival in the impossible world of “Southern drizzle”.I love this book.But why?Because there is simply no one else like JC Reilly in contemporary American poetry. No one else able to create the world of a story with such enchantment and such seeming ease, while at the same time filling that world with so moving lyrics, memorable lyric portraits and meditations.Because to just write beautiful poems, as she does, would already have been a true achievement.Because Really goes above and beyond the mere collection of lyrics, creating a whole world for us here, with characters, plot.All of which is to say:with “What Magicking May Not Alter” JC Reilly gives us that rarest of things–the debut of a literary master.
—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic
Under the Old Wives’ Oak, the Sibley women and the Widow Solley ring-a-round incantations to both conjure and avenge love in JC Reilly’s spellbinding What Magick May Not Alter: Poems of Tallulah & Vidalia. Whether fable stitched from ancient Celtic foremothers or documented history of a Shreveport, Louisiana, matriarchy, this haunted story in verse—and so beautifully crafted—casts us wholly into its inevitable ruin. Bound by moon phase and “unholy herbs,” its power to cure, release, and curse is its unreckoned force. Magick may only bend “the will of one” but, as with the Sibleys, a bonfire smolders within each of us, ready to pluck out the heart of bloodshed and redemption alike.
—Linda Parsons, author of Candescent and This Shaky Earth