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by Allison Joseph
Glass Lyre Press (Oct 24, 2016)
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The question of resiliency, of learning how to survive and to not just bounce back from life’s blows but to thrive, is a central concern of Allison Joseph’s work. In her chapbook The Purpose of Hands she ruminates upon such ontological questions. How can identity form when crippled by self loathing, self-doubt? Yet what is a narrative of the Self but a story in which the obstacles placed before us are broken as we arise? It is striking how self-aware she is and what lessons she’s had to learn in order to inhabit this world as both a woman and a woman of color. Femininity is much cause for celebration and joy while also being a crucible to endure. Her deliberate phrasings threaten the security and steadiness of knowing oneself by cementing the turbulence of grief and goodbyes. But love is redeeming as much as it is revelatory, and the art of craft is what is required to breathe. Lyricism and musicality offer the saving grace of lightness, a soul scorching relief.