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    Exclusive: See the cover for January Gill O’Neil’s Glitter Road.

    Literary Hub

    August 7, 2023, 10:00am

    Literary Hub is pleased to reveal the cover for Glitter Road, January Gill O’Neil’s latest poetry collection, which will be published by CanvanKerry Press in February. Here’s a bit about the collection from the publisher:

    “My poems brought me to Oxford, Mississippi, a.k.a. the velvet ditch: / a place you can fall into, get comfortable among confederate rebels” writes O’Neil in her bold new collection. Glitter Road looks back at the end of a marriage, loss, and a new relationship against the backdrop of a Mississippi season. She explores the history and legacy of Emmett Till, how his story is braided with hers, and how race binds us all together. These poems reclaim the vulnerable, intimate parts of a life in transition, and celebrates womanhood through awakenings, landscapes, meanders, and possibilities. She declares, “I am done telling the kinder story. I am a myth of my own making.”

    And here’s the cover, which was designed by Ryan Schiefe of Mayfly Design:

    “This map is one of 15 created for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in 1944 by Dr. Harold N. Fisk, a cartographer and geologist,” explained author January Gill O’Neil. “The maps display, in vividly colored loops, the movements of the Mississippi River and consider how the river’s flow has changed over thousands of years. Map #7 graces the cover of Glitter Road.

    I really liked the map and its less-than-literal interpretation of a road for the cover of my fourth collection. And I was drawn to the earth tones and the jumble of meanders creating a sort-of heart with its bends and purls. I love its complicated beauty, which was emblematic of my time in 2019 when I visited Mississippi as the John and Renee Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi (a.k.a. Ole Miss). Being awarded the fellowship was a shiny miracle for my writing that said, “keep going.”

    Of course, the map has sentimental meaning. I moved from Massachusetts with my two teenagers for the academic year. While there, we immersed ourselves in the culture and landscape of the state. We took trips to the Delta; leaned into the history of the enslaved and the tragic story of Emmett Till,  and explored the rivers and landscapes that shaped the South.

    Mississippi’s story is one in which beauty coexists with the scars of the past. But it’s also a place of joy and wonder. The Magnolia State enjoys a rich literary heritage with luminaries ranging from William Faulkner to Natasha Trethewey. I fell in love there and regained a part of myself I thought I had lost.

    I wanted a cover that captured the beautiful complexities I poured into these poems.

    “The poems in Glitter Road are so rich with vivid imagery that we were inspired to draft an image “wish list” as a phase I to review with the publisher and author before getting started on any cover design steps,” designer Ryan Schiefe told Literary Hub.

    The recurring threads of transition, meandering, and the Mississippi landscape narrowed our focus toward historic images of towns and roads, as well as images of magnolia trees, cotton fields, and bathtub graveyards inspired by select poems throughout the collection. In the end, we came back to the Mississippi River Meander Belt map image you see here, which the author supplied from the outset of the project. The various paths and intersecting curves worked so well at representing the storylines of the Mississippi’s past and how they intersect the author’s personal history. The gold foil treatment (a faux representation shown in this pre-press cover image) was a natural choice to add some “glitter” and a focal point within the otherwise entangled paths. The type choice was intentionally kept simple to mimic the typeface within the map legend below, which was left intact for historical context.

    Glitter Road is a deeply explored reflection on the legacy of change across both personal and historical landscapes,” added CavanKerry publisher Gabriel Cleveland.

    It honors how, in the present, people and places not only carry the signs and hope of progress, but bear the marks and scars of its antecedents and opponents. January Gill O’Neil’s poems reveal how, much like the mighty Mississippi, which has left furrows and sedimentary deposits along its various paths and tributaries throughout the meander of time, the alluvial remnants of the south’s sociopolitical past are not only still present, but ricochet and echo with the force of bullets. Yet somehow, this collection also manages to capture breathtaking moments of magical, restorative joy and passion in a manner that feels unique to the storied setting of Ole Miss and its surrounding area. Most miraculous of all, the poet is able to balance and reckon with the reality that everything—all the horrors and wonders—exist simultaneously in this place, like the shimmer of the sun reflected over the darkness of deep waters. While we researched various possibilities for this title, nothing captured the essence of the book—or our imaginations—nearly as much as when January discovered these old maps in the public domain. The decision to render the “primary” path of the Mississippi with gold foil was a no-brainer: it shines with the promise and potential that glitter throughout each of the poems within.

    Glitter Road will be published by CavanKerry Press on February 6, 2024. You can preorder it here.

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