15 June 2023

Jeannine Hall Gailey’s Flare, Corona Book Spotlight! @webbish6


May 9, 2022 • 112 pages  

Paperback: 978-1-950774-92-0 • $17.00 Ebook: 978-1-950774-93-7 • $9.99 

Against a constellation of solar weather events and an evolving pandemic, Jeannine Hall Gailey’s Flare, Corona paints a self-portrait of the ways that we prevail and persevere through health adversities while facing an uncertain future.

Gailey juxtaposes eclipses and hurricanes with a body's many medical challenges, including neurological symptoms that turn out to be multiple sclerosis, highlighting the miraculous while melding the personal with the political to tell a story of a world and body in crisis. Alongside harbingers of apocalypse, foxes, cherry trees, and supervillains populate the page. Flare, Corona faces calamity head-on, illuminating the power of humor and hope to brave the ever-shifting landscapes of personal and ecological adversity.

Jeannine Hall Gailey's poems are incandescent and tender-hearted, gracefully insistent on teaching us how we can live in a beautiful and perilous world, the ways in which we can brilliantly and stubbornly survive.

Advance Praise:

“Who knew the apocalypse could be so fun? Jeannine Hall Gailey, that’s who. Our trenchant speaker, who ‘wrote a nuclear winter poem when I was seven,’ now in mid-life finds herself smack dab in the eye of a perfect storm: a mistaken terminal cancer diagnosis resolves itself into an MS diagnosis accessorized with a coronavirus crown. Yet these poems are deeply life-affirming, filled with foxes and fairytales and fig trees. Flare, Corona is a surprising, skilled, and big- hearted book.” — Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs

“Everything really is connected is what I kept thinking as I read Jeannine Hall Gailey’s Flare, Corona. In it, the ecological crisis we face is felt in the marrow of the body, and ‘chronic illness’ becomes a phrase to characterize not only a human condition but our global one. Yet Gailey faces personal and societal illness with characteristic deep feeling and humor, and I was struck by the search for hope and optimism undergirding these inviting, image-rich poems: ‘Look to the future—perhaps that glow you see isn’t fire, but sunrise.’” — Dana Levin, author of Now You Do Know Where You Are

“The milieu of Flare, Corona, is at once literal and metaphorical: what blooms in the water and soil of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, ultimately blooms in the bodies of those who grew up there. This collection effortlessly toggles between what feels endangered in the macro-political scale of contemporary American society, and in the micro-medical reality of our speaker: ‘My first flare came on the week of the solar eclipse / when the shadow fell cold over us, and the birds stopped singing.’ What’s astonishing about this collection is how the poet showcases her trademark dark humor and vivid hyperbole—all the while pulling the reader in close to consider, frankly and with earned insight, the experience of chronic illness. Crafty uses of parallel structure and self-portraiture elevate personal narratives into poems that will outlive any apocalypse. This is an immersive, terrific read.” — Sandra Beasley, author of Made to Explode.

Writing the Poems in Flare, Corona

by Jeannine Hall Gailey


I’m going to talk about writing one of my favorite poems – one of the first you’ll read in the book – from Flare, Corona, called “Calamity.” 

“Calamity” is probably a typical poem for me, in that it is in couplets and switches between darker and lighter notes, humor and seriousness. Godzilla makes an appearance, and also a verse from the bible. 

Inspiration for the Poem

So, I started to write this poem in November of 2019 – when I started reading about a Chinese doctor who was put in prison after he talked online about some patients – lab techs – who died of a strange virus. I thought, I’ve seen this disaster movie before.

It was also right before Thanksgiving and hearing so many people stressing out – you may remember in 2019 politics was particularly fraught – about family encounters during Thanksgiving, which became the first line of the poem. 

The Title

The original title was “Calamity Jane” because of my personal history of “disasters” but I cut the Jane out before I submitted it, because I made it less of a personal poem, and more universal. 

The rest of the poem kind of flowed from the many ideas of what a “calamity” might entail – UFOs, meteors, even a sports team’s loss, or, even getting snowed in on Thanksgiving.

Themes and Placement in the Book

One of the themes of Flare, Corona, is survival – in many forms.  I thought this poem might be a good thesis poem for the book – that is, encompassing its themes, but in a slightly more lighthearted form than some of the other poems about the same subject – and that’s why I decided to put it so early in the book. 

Also, it was one of the first poems I ever had accepted and published at Poetry Magazine – and I was really excited about that. (I’d been submitting since I was 19! Lots of encouraging rejections, but the first acceptance was when I was 46! 

Form and Sound

A lot of sound informed this poem – a lot of alliteration,  “s” and “e” sounds. I like playing with sonic devices. The couplets make the poem feel a little more formal, and I have a few sort-of-sonnets in the book – called “mutant sonnets,” because they’re always a little off. Just like me! Ha. This one didn’t quite qualify, but I like couplets for making poems feel neat and purposeful – it also works well with short, punchy lines. I also used a mix of enjambment and end-stopped lines, to give the poem a little more energy and movement as you read it. 

This poem first appeared in Poetry Magazine in April 2020, then in my book Flare, Corona


Your family is coming over for Thanksgiving.

Even worse, it’s snowing. 

Headless robots are playing soccer with your soul.

UFOs have been sighted overhead.

A meteor is definitely heading straight for you.

It might miss, but then again.

Tonight a city is being decimated by Godzilla,

or was it a bunch of genetically-engineered dinosaurs?

Either way, I hope you’re lizard-friendly.

Tonight you have to give a speech

and that girl who hated you in third grade

will be in the audience. What have I ever done

to deserve this? the prophet asks, tearing his robes

in the desert. God responds: how long you got?

A plague of egrets, of eaglets, of egress. 

A black hole has just opened up and it is 

already swallowing someone else’s sun. 

Did you see the team play last night? A travesty.

Someone is always preaching about doomsday.

Who are you wearing? Because tonight

your life will be required of you. Grab a bag,

a sword, a water bottle. Go out swinging.  

Jeannine Hall Gailey is a poet with Multiple Sclerosis who served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of six books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess (Steel Toe Books, 2006,) She Returns to the Floating World (Kitsune Books, 2011,) Unexplained Fevers (New Binary Press, 2013) The Robot Scientist's Daughter (Mayapple Press, 2015), the winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the SFPA's Elgin Award, Field Guide to the End of the World, and the upcoming from BOA Editions, Flare, Corona. 

She's also written a guide to marketing for poets, PR for Poets. Her poems were featured on NPR's The Writer's Almanac and Verse Daily and included in 2007's The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. Her work has appeared in journals like The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, The American Poetry Review, and Poetry. She has an MA in English from the University of Cincinnati and an MFA from Pacific University.

Jeannine also writes book reviews which have appeared in The Rumpus, American Book Review, Calyx, The Pedestal Magazine, and The Cincinnati Review.
She has written technical articles and published a book on early web services technology with Microsoft Press in 2004.
Her web site is www.webbish6.com. Twitter and Instagram: @webbish6.



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