REVIEW: A LIVE THING, CLINGING WITH MANY TEETH – KOLLEEN CARNEY HOEPFNER (SPOOKY GIRLFRIEND PRESS)

A Live Thing, Clinging with Many Teeth is a collection of found poetry using Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game as the source text. For those of you that read my #TPQ5, you might remember King being on my list—high on the list. As I read through this collection I loved the writing, but it wasn’t until I got to the end that I saw the note about it being found poetry. Then it all made sense.

I loved this because I love King’s voice. Then, I wondered if I loved it because it was a form of King or if Kolleen Carney Hoepfner pulled off an effective and engaging collection of poetry. I thought about it for a day and came to the conclusion that it’s the latter, clearly.


If you’re going to live through this
I would suggest you stop
and learn that no matter
how hard the most obvious solution 
would be to start screaming.


A Live Thing, Clinging with Many Teeth is a deep dive into darkness. It’s about a woman trapped without a chance of escape. She recognizes how things have fallen apart—including her physical and mental states—but also realizes the hard work of escape lay in front of her.

There is a lot of hopelessness here, and it puts the reader in a difficult position: we need to root for this woman, but text is telling us there’s no point. Hoepfner is illustrating—with deft skill—the disconnect between what we want versus what we know. We’re shown a woman who has to come to terms with pain and discomfort being her new reality. And then the idea of change is more frightening than her continued torture. It’s a hard mindset to get into in such a short period of time, but I think it’s successful in this collection. Hoepfner took King and condensed him down into something that is wholly original and compelling.

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