cover of Un- by Laurel Blossom

In Memoriam
     Linda Corrente (1953-1999)
     Jason Shinder (1955-2008)
     Starkey Flythe Jr. (1935-2013)
Un- header


A series of short narrative prose poems in search of one of Esther Williams’s understudies and other lost and unsung beauties of 1950s Hollywood.

Purchase a copy of Un- at Finishing Line Press.

Laurel Blossom, former poet laureate of Edgefield, has written a series of short prose poems that acknowledge movie star Esther Williams’s understudies. The title "Un-" stands for the swimmers who were uncredited, unknown and unacknowledged in their underwater worlds. Blossom, a lifelong swimmer, summons old Hollywood intrigue in her accomplished collection.
--- "By the Book," by Karin Gillespie, Columnist
The Augusta Chronicle online, March 29, 2020

Imagine a Hollywood mystery written by a feminist Raymond Chandler, and you’ll be close to the spirit of this astonishingly original book of poems. Un- is a classic who-done-it, in which the reader is confronted with missing persons, misidentified characters, friends named after movie stars, and movie stars who are both more and less than they appear to be. Like all good mysteries, Un- is also a love story, though in this case the romance is with water. Understudies, missed connections, and missed opportunities percolate through the watery lens of the book’s ubiquitous swimming pools, whose buoyancy and transparency is juxtaposed with water’s ability to dissolve and erase. Women bear the brunt of this undoing: Un-, as in unappreciated, uncredited, unknown, and unnamed. I dare anyone to find more excitement, mystery, intelligence, and shear bravado wrapped in such an elegant package.
--- Gary Young, author of That’s What I Thought: Poems

I adore this book!! I feel like I’m swimming as I’m reading! Laurel Blossom catches with lyric clarity the feel of swimming, the allure and faith in the water’s elegant wit and power that we learned from Esther Williams. Un- is a gift: no other poetry has so captured the magic of swimming, the body’s favorite dance floor!!
--- Jill Schary Robinson, author of Perdido

A mystery charges the center of Laurel Blossom's superb Un-. The object of the poet's acute attention is a Mrs. Godfrey, understudy to Esther Williams, Hollywood's mid-century swim goddess. And the "un" of Un- is "uncredited"—which is an injustice, maybe, in Hollywood, but Blossom also explores the ways in which it can a blessing to be able to remake oneself anonymously, without the burden of a "name." Another "un" here is the poet's project to Un- erase the past, access it, and feed her hunger for stories that have glancing, enigmatic connections with her own. But her discoveries are tentative, because no one, including the poet herself, exactly tells the truth in this story: truth is as changeable as the fluid that was Williams' element, and the poet makes up delightful, often hilarious, stuff with great élan. Blossom deploys all the attributes of a great detective—imagination, perseverance, and guile—because she understands that when we choose certain people as objects of devotion and curiosity, the genius and vertú of those people (as Machiavelli used the word, to mean excellence, honor, and power), even far away in space and time, can be life changing or even life-saving. So it is with this marvelous book.
--- Patrick Donnelly, author of Little-Known Operas

Publication Date: March 13, 2020 • Poetry • $14.99

Orders: Finishing Line Press •