LittleRed_Cover Final

(excerpt from Little Red, Mother Tongue Publishing, April 2019)

this is what Scarlet would look like now

notice how the artist has rendered crow’s feet

and smudged dark shades around her eyes that

are now sunk deep. how her mouth has curled

slightly in on itself. she’s lost baby fat which crisps

cheekbones. but her eyes. her eyes are the same

curious, independent of this whole aging process


Little Red explores stories of girls born into a world of wolves, both wild and predatory. Gilbert’s poems are stickpins that dissect the motives of those who warp innocence into objects and who shine ‘a lamp on their spread bodies.’ Gilbert writes with sharp tweezers, the better to see.”

-Cornelia Hoogland, author of Trailer Park Elegy

“Enter the world of captivating Little Red, where we encounter a nuanced journey, where beauty co-exists with violence; where the up-ending of expectation merges with truth, all delivered in exquisite lines, and haunting refrains.”

-Renee Sarojini Saklikar, author of Listening to the Bees with Dr. Mark Winston

“Little Red’s siren call of contemporary warnings and lessons make it seem like Little Red Riding Hood had it easy. Today’s children navigate the danger of wolves, as well as ticks, wildfires, flashers, and graphic news reports. Gilbert’s poems let us know that happily-ever-after may never have been the ideal, and that, more importantly, we must somehow satisfy our other hunger–to find safety in this world.”

-Jay Ruzesky, author of The Wolsenburg Clock

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(excerpt from Tight Wire, Mother Tongue Publishing, April 2016)

No. One

funambulism. barefoot—no leather soled slippers. her big and second toe cut deep in between by braided tight wire. no props—just freehand. fully aware of her center of mass and of her core. fully aware of the shallow tank of hammerheads below. circling. fully aware of the ring master with the sawed off shotgun pointed at her back—aimed behind the curtains at her amateur heart—and the black, worn suitcase full of crumpled up cash at his feet.

the audience is unaware. they see beauty. sequins. perfection. poise.

to add to this spectacle, an assistant with a painted smile waits at the side with her children. he will add them one by one while she shifts her weight over her legs and with her arms she sways side to side with grace, even though blood drips to the tank from her feet. she pushes against gravity because. because she loves her children more than herself.

sweat cuts a new river through her clay make-up, but that too goes unnoticed.

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“Delivered in crisp, edgy prose verse reminiscent of Ondaatje in The Collected Works of Billy The Kid or Coming Through Slaughter, and envisioning a grotesqueness like Su Croll’s in Worlda Mirth, Kerry Gilbert’s Tight Wire unravels a circus-bestiary of “women on display,” of women struggling with “amateur heart” and “new skin.” Gilbert envisions a new kind of ‘June Cleaver’ here, a woman, a mother, a lover just as restricted as her famous, mid-50s North American prototype, but also strangely new and appalling in a different way, too, and strong and frightening as well. A visceral, wonderful read.”

John Lent author of The Path to Ardroe

“The “tight wire” is where the feminine is performed within the callousness of the culture’s expectations.  Gilbert provokes the reader to imagine the violence, vulnerability, and grief that can attend the female experience of marriage, birth, and motherhood.”

Sharon Thesen author of Oyama Pink Shade

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