McClung covChapbook (Barefoot Muse Press, 2020)

“Kathleen McClung is a master of the sonnet crown. In her skilled hands, that venerable form expands to encompass active shooter drills, smartphones, and Lyft drivers, as well as songbirds, the sea, and the moon. Even the structure of Temporary Kin—four sonnet crowns linked together by single villanelles—forms a circle, a daisy chain, a fifth and final crown. Like the speaker of one of her poems, McClung knows that there is an ancient magic to ‘seasons, cycles, wheels that spin unseen / far longer than our brief mortality.'”

Julie Kane, author of Jazz Funeral and Mothers of Ireland, co-editor of Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse.


“This may be a small chapbook, but it’s a huge tour de force, containing four sonnet crowns and four villanelles. Technically, it’s stunning, as McClung riffs with form and plays with sounds like a skilled musician. There’s much pleasure to be had in her deft use of rhyme, her sprung rhythm, her word play. But just because she uses received forms, don’t think McClung is some fusty Victorian praising posies. One of the sonnet crowns is about a school on lockdown, another crown is taken from various news headlines, such as a workman trapped in an ATM. Dazzling and unforgettable!”

Barbara Crooker, author of The Book of Kells (Cascade Books), winner of the Best Poetry Book Award from Poetry by the Sea, and Some Glad Morning (Pitt Poetry Series).


“Kathleen McClung possesses an extraordinary gift for story-telling in verse—even in patterns as complex as the sonnet crown and the villanelle, both notoriously difficult to pull off convincingly. Using familiar registers for a wide variety of personae, McClung delves into the motivations of characters as dissimilar as Willy Loman is to a sinister psychopath—all accompanied by a nuanced narrative voice that surfaces throughout. It’s a splendid group of character studies, skillfully woven into challenging poetic forms.”

Marilyn L. Taylor, Poet Laureate of Wisconsin (Emerita)

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