Grey All Over
“Please stay with me, please stay here, please cause poltergeists in my stupid apartment…” Late in the evening of December 13, 2007, Andrea Actis found her father, Jeff, facedown dead in her East Vancouver apartment. So began her passage through grief, self-reckoning, and graduate school in Providence, Rhode Island, where the poetics she studied (and sometimes repudiated) became integral to her gradual reconstruction of wholeness. An assemblage of “evidence” recovered from emails about paranormal encounters sent and received by Jeff (firstname.lastname@example.org), junk mail from false prophets, an annotated excerpt from Laura (Riding) Jackson’s “The Serious Angels: A True Story,” and transcripts of Actis’ dreams, conversations, and messages to the dead, Grey All Over not only celebrates a rare, close, complicated father-daughter bond, it also boldly expands the empathetic and critical capacities of poetry itself. In pulling us outside the comfort zones of received aesthetics and social norms, Actis asks us to embrace with whole seriousness “the pragmatics of intuition” in all the ways we read, live, and love. “When a loved one dies, there’s all this stuff to deal with, and in the midst of grief we begin to collect, sort, document, store, and discard. Andrea Actis has taken the stuff surrounding her father’s death and created a book that is, like grief, in turns heartbreaking, wise, chaotic, drunk, wry, and always unflinchingly honest. This powerful testament of survival is for anyone who has felt the ‘déjà vu in reverse’ of grief. It is for the living.” —Sachiko Murakami, author of Render “Love letter, experimental poem, meditation, conversation with the dead—Andrea Actis’s compelling debut is unlike any memoir I’ve ever read. In one passage, Actis digs out the biggest piece of bone she can find in the vessel of her father’s ashes and gently bites on it. Reading Grey All Over I had a similar sensation. Ash. Bone. Love.” —Jen Currin, author of Hider/Seeker “This absolutely beautiful work makes plain that seriousness feels like love.” —Aisha Sasha John, author of I have to live.
- 2021 Andrea Actis
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