POET - PHOTOGRAPHER - CONSULTANT
MERNA DYER SKINNER
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TWO APRONS
WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING:
A Brief History of Two Aprons is honest, engaging and demonstrates the past can be a place troubled with questions. Skinner asks us “…to describe the sound of a turning page?” as we turn page after page of beautiful poetry we find ourselves drifting through her life, and in doing so discover something about our own. These poems “… traveling slow as heat …” deserve to be read.
-Rick Bursky, author of I’m No Longer Troubled By the Extravagance
"I want to build / layers of language — / bind the thought threads / that otherwise fray and tear. / The words on this page / long to last," writes the narrator in the poem "Mistakes," in Merna Skinner's skillful and thrilling poetry debut. Palimpsest-like meanings build steadily through this book which travels to a range of settings and through pivotal moments in personal history. Skinner looks through a prismatic lens to explore both literal place in the world — Paris, New York, Spain — and displacement, as in the poem "Southern Bound White Girl" as her poems puzzle through legacies and what it means to belong.
In the poem "Pulling Up Roots," the narrator offers a deeply compelling list of where she is from: "white sheets on clotheslines and mongrel dogs on chains, / From canasta playing grandmothers serving fresh lemonade." Yet the poem ends with the essential couplet, "But, who cares where I've come from?/ — it's where I'm going — it's what I bring."
Following this voice takes the reader through deftly observed landscapes, often undercut with a poignant undertow, and at other moments, joyous wordplay, deliciously unexpected rhyme, and sheer delight in discovery through language.
In response to the title "Where Do You Feel Most At Home?" Skinner writes about "the music of pages / played by my thumb and fingers" as the speaker finds refuge and solace while surrounded by words — in a library and part of the community of readers. Skinner has found her home in words, and the reader is richer for visiting these many-hued rooms, both hidden within and deeply welcoming.
-Elline Lipkin, author of The Errant Thread