Praise for Barbed Wire and Bed Clothes

Alice Pettway’s Barbed Wire and Bedclothes explores the familiar and finds it all akimbo and sharp-elbowed. A daughter confronts her mother, conjuring her own fetal anger: “could you feel the pulse of my resentment?” and cringes at her mother’s “every glance, a confirmation of failure.” Love itself is a “struggle” here, “flint-sharp.” Even the body is at war with itself, menaced by mastectomy, threatening dissolution. And yet the rough-and-tumble of real life is rewarded by the knowledge that “those who have treasured / their battles and blunders / will never do battle alone.” These poems are terse, precise, evocative, and sensuous; to anyone grown timid or lazy or comfortable, they send a challenge: “cut the barbed wire now and chance the landmines.” — Philip Appleman

There are a lot of good things to say about the poems of Alice Pettway. Probably what sets them apart more than any other virtue is the subtle but insistent sense of irony they convey—one of the rarest and most valuable aspects of any art, but especially of poetry. — Miller Williams

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