Poetry, chapbook, 36 pages, from Bottlecap Features.
Melissa Joplin Higley’s debut chapbook First Father is a thematic collection of short poems based on research about her biological father, whom she never knew, who struggled with alcoholism, and who died in a motor vehicle accident when she was seven years old.
Clear-eyed and raw, these poems represent a process of discovery about who her biological father really was, beyond her decades-long, limited idea of him as she was growing up. Each poem works as a small letter addressed directly to him, in which the repeated “you” becomes a refrain in the larger context of abandonment, loss, and grief.
A collection of miniature wounds, the poems in First Father take the reader through the speaker’s journey of gathering the scattered pieces of her history and trying to reconcile singular, irreversible decisions with their lifelong repercussions.
Melissa Joplin Higley won the Grand Prize in the 90th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition in 2021 for her poem “Anticipatory Grief.” A Best of the Net nominee, her work appears or is forthcoming in Anti-Heroin Chic, Feral, MER, The Night Heron Barks, ONE ART, Right Hand Pointing, Sleet Magazine, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and co-facilitates the Poetry Craft Collective. Melissa lives near the sea in New York with her multi-general family and four tuxedo cats. Visit her online: melissajoplinhigley.com.