Missing women are prevalent throughout pop culture and further back into our folklores and myths: women get stolen by gods, by the fair folk, by strangers travelling through their towns. We’ve built our stories around these losses. When I first started writing the poems for this chapbook I was thinking about missing women and the stories they never get to tell.
As I wrote the pieces, these narratives spiraled out into something larger: the way we deal with losses or don’t deal with them (as the case more often is). All of these poems are in some way about the things that vanish but don’t.
For me, loss has always been about the ways in which we tell stories to try to imagine a way out of it or to bring back the things and people we’ve lost. It also comes in so many ways: loss of the people we care about, but also loss of communication, loss of friendships and romances, loss of a dream or a place you once called home.
In one of the poems, “Missing Girl Found—,” I pushed past the versions of that headline we see all too often. In another, “Missing Girls Continued,” I looked at from the perspective of the friends left behind in that situation. How do you continue to exist in a world, once you know the damage it can do to you? Being a woman is a constant negotiation of your safety while still trying to exist as a person in the world.
Other poems, tackle loss through fabulist imaginings: demons, ghosts, the universe itself becomes a lover. If there is one thing loss teaches us it is that it takes away so much: including our ability to talk about it. There are excellent folklore studies on how stories like the Singing Bones motif might tie directly to early attempts at solving murders, just as stories of girls being stolen to the land of the fae might have served as explanations for the exploitation and murders of children at the time. Even our most magical stories are ways of us trying to speak about the dangers of the world. Wilfred Owen once wrote that all the poet can do today is warn. It’s a statement that becomes truer and truer with every passing moment.
Blurb for The Science of Unvanishing Objects
Missing girls, lost women, fortune tellers, ghosts, black holes, demons, magic—these are the “unvanishing objects” of Chloe Clark’s abiding affection. From an overheard mundane bus conversation, to calm confrontations with the dead and missing, to an embrace of the vasty reaches of the universe, Clark explores the erotics of desire and fulfillment, the uncanny dazzlement of daily life. These lovely and moving poems look the abyss unflinchingly in the face and find there succor and love. The Science of Unvanishing Objects is truly a book of wonders, a wonder of a book. –Ronald Wallace
Bio: Chloe N. Clark holds an MFA in Creative Writing & Environment. Her poetry and fiction appears in Apex, Booth, Hobart, Gamut, Midwestern Gothic, and more. She teaches at Iowa State University, writes for Nerds of a Feather, and can be found on Twitter @PintsNCupcakes.