Thursday, August 30, 2007



Sugaring by Ann Cefola
(Dancing Girl Press, 2007)

The Anti-Transformation, A Discursive Review

The twenty poems gathered together in Ann Cefola’s first chapbook, Sugaring, are a fine entry for her into the world of poetry. In the opening poem, “Magnetic North,” Cefola traces a friendship through the seasons and the points of the planet, writing,

Your jade hands lifting to warn of summer thunder. Crisp red
and orange leaves yielding and playful. Root. Memory. Soil.
My life rings in yours:

How did we, unprotesting, collect hard blue frost? You tell me
to give it all back, release every cold-carved facet,
every crystalline dagger, into soggy earth.

Cefola’s use of metaphoric language to excavate relationships is effective and a fixture in the chapbook. In “Confessional,” Cefola writes, “Frieda Kahlo is painting me making conscious contact with the divine./Bracelets jangle on her birdlike wrist as brush taps palette.” In “For a Coyote Crossing Route 10,” she commands, “Don’t tell me nature means never outgrowing a wild puppyhood.” This metaphoric often precedes a stark revelation. In the final poem of the first section, “Who Banned Rain?” Cefola concludes the poem,

A priest I knew, always caught in downpours, would say Enjoy.
I like his gospel: Heaven is meant to break wide open.

I have met thunder on the sunniest day, and greeting you, rain,
on the dirt road is the only way I can feel sky on my skin.

Cefola’s poetry seeks to explore the natural world in counterpoint to human relationships – a theme and a trope that is worked and reworked throughout the poems of Sugaring.

The concluding poem of the chapbook is the title poem. “Sugaring” is perhaps the strongest poem in the chapbook. It ends with an observation of opposites and the word yes. Cefola writes,

You drench; I drizzle. I push my half-empty pitcher across the table.
You say, Are you sure? Such sweetness tapped makes me lick my lips

As a book, Sugaring is organized into two, evenly divided sections. There is a solid arc of the poems within each section the chapbook demonstrates Cefola’s commitment to powerful images and well wrought language.

Sugaring is published by Kristy Bowen’s upstart publishing house, Dancing Girl Press, after her great success with the e-zine, Wicked Alice. She makes the chapbooks carefully by hand and Sugaring has a gorgeous, full color cover done on fine columnar paper. Bowen not only serves Cefola’s poems well, but also serves all of us, hungry for new feminist poetry, well.


Julie R. Enszer is a writer and lesbian activist living in Maryland. She has previously been published in Iris: A Journal About Women, Room of One’s Own, Long Shot, the Web Del Sol Review, and the Jewish Women’s Literary Annual. You can learn more about her work at


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