The Naomi Letters (BOA Editions, 2021) by Chicago-based poet Rachel Mennies takes an unusual form--each poem in the collection is a dated letter or draft from the speaker of the poems to the woman she loves, named Naomi. Recounting a year in the life of this speaker, a Jewish woman under the pressures of mental illness and longing, this form also allows us to explore a profound question: can a fictional character an author creates change that author’s life?
You can check out The Naomi Letters here from the library’s collection and you can find more about Rachel Mennies and her writing on her website: rachelmennies.com. Mennies is also the author of The Glad Hand of God Points Backwards (Texas Tech University Press, 2014), the series editor of the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry, and she is the reviews editor for AGNI. She edited, alongside Ruth Awad, the anthology The Familiar Wild: On Dogs and Poetry (Sundress Publications, 2020).
Rachel’s poem “[unsent draft]” was also featured in our recent Pride Month podcast series Queer Poem-a-Day. As part of our converstaion we also read “Male Beauty” by Richie Hoffman, again from Queer Poem-a-Day.
Finally, I’m very humbled and honored to announce that my work on The Deerfield Public Library Podcast received the 2021 Illinois Library Association Readers’ Advisory Service Award. Thank you to ILA, the Adult Reading Round Table, all my colleagues at the Library--and especially to our guests and listeners who’ve made this program what it is today.