Poetry, chapbook, 24 pages, from Bottlecap Features.
In MUD~ Fieldnotes from a Juvenile Psychiatric Institution, Kelly Gray paints a surreal landscape from the rooms of a psychiatric ward bound to outdated models of clinical psychology. Sexuality, gender, rage and compassion are oppressed and villainized. Children collide in fever dreams while looking for whispers of home. Our narrator, sometimes a teenage girl, and sometimes an adult, is dragged through the institution and its inner workings to witness her humanity dissected and then, looking backwards, finds hope as she traces her scars.
Both political and deeply intimate, MUD questions the role of institutional violence and refuge, while rooting us into a body unhinged by societal norms. Each poem mimics the world they come from; sometimes clinical, sometimes panting with fear, they are both earnest and aware of self. Poems written as if incantations conjure up imaginary dogs, sporks digging into throats, patients urinating on patients, and children force-fed medication that would later be found to cause suicidal ideations. Gray’s collection is seamlessly crafted to take your body and mind on a ride as true as any American dream; dark, moody and unapologetically horrifying.
Kelly Gray is a writer and educator living in Sonoma County with her beloved family in cabin she believes is too small for all their personalities and pets. Her writing has recently appeared in or is forthcoming in Southern Humanities Review, Permafrost Magazine, Northwest Review, and Newfound. She is the recipient of the Neutrino Short-Short Prize from Passages North and the ArtSurround Cohort Grant and her collections include Instructions for an Animal Body (Moon Tide Press), Tiger Paw, Tiger Paw, Knife, Knife (Quarter Press), and My Fingers are Whales and Other Stories of Cetology (Moon Child Press). Her chapbook Quag Daughter is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. You can read more of her work at writekgray.com.