Strings Attached (Paperback)
Wayne State University Press, 9780814340134, 94pp.
Publication Date: May 1, 2014
In Strings Attached, poet Diane DeCillis takes inspiration from the story of the elephant calf with a thin rope tied to its leg. Even when it grows into a massive animal, the elephant thinks the same string still restrains it and never attempts to break free. This powerful, funny, and sometimes self-deprecating collection considers all the ways that strings bind us in relationships and explores their constant tightening and loosening. Although we may never sever the strings attached to our wounds, DeCillis shows that when given enough slack we can create the illusion of having been set free.
The poems in Strings Attached consider tension in a variety of relationships. The short string of an American girl raised in Detroit by a resentful Lebanese grandmother whose culture values boys over girls. The attachment to a strong mother who exemplifies feminism but who is mostly absent in order to support the family. The cosmopolitan father who abandons but captivates, and the strings of relationships with older men, built on longing for the missing father. The long strings of a secret life that teach you to be distant. The strings that cuff you to your home, and the triumph of loosening them after years of agoraphobia. The frayed strings that come from being too American in a Lebanese culture. The strings of food and tradition that connect to family and friends.
DeCillis's verse reflects an insistent search for identity and the happy discovery that outsider status can be a good thing, a kind of earned badge that provides new ways of seeing. All poetry readers will relate to the personal and perceptive verse of this debut collection.