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November 14, 2016

Book Notes - Joanna C. Valente "Marys of the Sea"

Marys of the Sea

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Joanna C. Valente's poetry collection Marys of the Sea is as visceral and poignant as anything I have read all year.

Rachel Eliza Griffiths wrote of the book:

"Visceral in its fearlessness and candor, Valente's Marys of the Sea is a bravely, nuanced exploration of the subversive and sensual tensions that pulse in language and flesh."


In her own words, here is Joanna C. Valente's Book Notes music playlist for her poetry collection Marys of the Sea:



John Maus - "Hey Moon"

The playlist starts off with this song, because the collection as a whole focuses largely on the idea of a sense of a lack of control, especially due to the cosmic forces around us. The moon itself a reoccurring image - one of dark mystery - which sets the tone for the collection.


Marlon Williams - "Dark Child"

This song is about the death/loss of a child, which fits in with the fact that the collection is haunted by the dead child that Mary aborted.


Cat Power - "I Don't Blame You"

In the book, there's a poem "In the Beginning, Everything Was Water," where the unborn child speaks to the mother about her choice.


Vic Chesnutt - "Flirted With You All My Life"

A very clever ode to death, the collection is obsessed with this theme in both a literal and metaphorical sense.


Phillip Glass - "Dead Things"

I largely wrote the collection to this song. So beautiful, sad, and moving.


Liturgy - "Follow II"

Another song that I wrote the collection to, because the atmosphere is chaotic and dark, which is precisely the mindset Mary/the narrator faced when she was assaulted and underwent an abortion.


Bobby Vee - "Devil Or Angel"

The entire collection, Mary is struggling with the fact that she believes she's a bad person for getting an abortion - is she the devil or the angel?


Electric Wizard - "Black Mass"

What's more apt than metal?


Tori Amos - "New Age"

While the original VU song is exquisite, I love the vulnerability of Amos' version. For Mary, it is a new era, for better or for worse. With any change, there is a new beginning, which hopefully can resurrect the self in strong and beautiful ways, even if it's never quite the same.


Jason Anderson - "This Will Never Be Our Town"

It's a song about feeling lost, displaced - as if you don't belong.


Joanna C. Valente and Marys of the Sea links:

the author's website


also at Largehearted Boy:

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