Here is Kathryn, "nearly 88, infinity next to infinity, / but infinity curled on itself, a whirlwind / that whipped about the house and was gone, / rain in its wake, a smell of dirt." Kathryn is near the end of her life and is losing her memories: travels, husbands, a storm of keepsakes. As Gina Franco unleashes that storm and as Kathryn's flood of memories washes over us, we know at once that we are in the hands of a truly gifted poet. "The Keepsake Storm" is the culmination of a verse cycle that probes the depths of the heart a meditation on the meaning of life in a difficult world. Drawing on a rich tradition of storytelling in Latino literature, Franco explores the transformative power of compassion as she addresses themes of cultural alienation, lost family roots, and the uncertain resiliency of the self. In writing that blends rapture, vision, and mystery, Franco calls on a multiplicity of voices and a prodigious command of forms to explore the underlying rhythms of life, finding poetry even in the imperfect transmissions of e-mail:"I was happy to get your letter. I had a rough day.My step-mom had a breakdown and is in a hospitol.I don't understand all the why's of it.
She has paranoiascetsafrinia. (and I know that is spelled totallywrong). I don't blame myself I just didn't see it coming." By reaffirming the power of self-awareness, history, and place, Franco reaches out to all who struggle to find meaning in times of trouble or self-doubt. The Keepsake Storm is a personal journey through many lives that is nothing less than a celebration and a reassessment of American consciousness.
Gina Franco's poems have appeared in The Georgia Review, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, and other publications. She is a recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize from Smith College and the Robert Chasen and Corson-Bishop Poetry Prizes from Cornell University. She teaches at Knox College in Illinois.