Taking compliments gracefully has never been a strength of mine. Typically, when someone says something specific and pleasant to me I blush and deflect and change the subject. I've improved slightly at just saying thank you before melting into a shock puddle at the prospect of anyone finding me even marginally remarkable, as all the praise heaped on my bird these past few months has taught me just to smile and say "I'm very proud." Because I am. The outpouring of support for this book has been overwhelming, and as far as I can tell it will just keep getting better. Pelican's being talked about in public again, and not just by me at the NYC Poetry Festival last week.
In what's probably the most thorough and attentive review I'll ever receive, Knar Gavin had this say about my bird:
The poet acknowledges her own grief if only to propose a triumphant emergence from that grief. Rather than rotting or desiccating away, O’Neill’s fallen tree undergoes a state change instead, thriving in its fallen state, covered in a verdant blanket of not one, but many small green lives. A single damaged life becomes host to a colony of beings. In a sense, the poet is just such a host; with each fall, her voice springs back to life, newly rich in timbre and strength.
You can read the whole shebang and blush along with me here at Heavy Feather Review. And as if Gavin's words didn't already have me all tied up in knots of gratitude and disbelief, Gina Vaynshteyn wrote a review for The Rumpus that not only compares me quite favorably to Plath but also gives space to how I try to find language for memory:
There is so much to love in Pelican. The expertly devastating language. The preciseness of form. The honesty of story. The way O’Neill juxtaposes tender familial moments with violence and aggression.
In her closing paragraph, Vaynshteyn writes, "Pelican is gut-wrenching, and it doesn't fear flesh." I couldn't hope for higher praise than that. Read the entire glut of kindness here.
Finally, there's the relentless support my press has shown me. On my way back from Pittsburgh, the fabulous and tireless YesYes Books publicist, Heather Brown, tweeted at me so I could see her interviewer asking for me by name over at the Best American Poetry blog. My bird wouldn't be in anybody's hands at all without Heather, or KMA Sullivan, our fearless leader, or Stevie Edwards, the editor and friend who's believed in my work for longer than almost anyone. The entire YesYes staff and family of authors makes me so proud to be among them. I am so boundlessly thankful for the work YesYes has put into making sure I've been welcomed as wildly as any debut author could dream to be welcome by the literary community. You can read the entire Meet The Press feature, including an excerpt from Pelican, here.