Jeanne-Marie Osterman’s collection, Shellback, takes us to the heart of her relationship with her father, a World War II Navy veteran and kamikaze survivor. Set beneath the tall trees and rainy skies of the Pacific Northwest, and the Pacific theater of World War II, these poems speak of love, forgiveness, and the tragedies of war. Vividly nostalgic and plainspoken, Shellback is both a tribute to her father, and a longing for the closeness to him she could never quite achieve.
A not-untroubled tribute and a difficult elegy, Shellback traces the attachment of a daughter to her father from her childhood days of trying “to be his boy” to the grown-up’s task to be his caregiver in his last years. Including horrific details from the father’s WWII Navy service in the Pacific, which the poet memorializes in blunt, terse lines, alongside the harrowing specifics of his decline, Osterman limns a portrait of a complex relationship. Marked by candor and clear-sightedness, these poems resist soothing resolutions and easy solace, which is why they are sure to ring true to readers. —Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Letters from Limbo
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