The Language of Little Girls

The Language of Little GirlsTHE BOOK: The Language of Little Girls.


THE AUTHOR: Kate Falvey.

THE PUBLISHER: David Robert Books, an imprint of WordTech Communications, Lori Jareo and Kevin Walzer, owners and publishers.

SUMMARY: My work is centered on the lives of girls and women — the pathos, suffering, surprises, renegade bits of wisdom, awkward attempts to find solace and distinction in humdrum or violence-streaked lives. I am a kind of silence activist in a noisy, frenetic world, believing that deliberate attentiveness and a habit of inner-listening will provide access to creative vitality and guard against the manic blare that makes it tough to hear the whimpers of our own fragility. My poetry and fiction rescue this fragility and attempt to show the dearness in our struggles for purpose and dignity. I often write in the voices of children or characters who are vulnerable and naïve and am particularly attuned to the unsettling and restorative mysteries of the natural world.

Image result for Kate Falvey + poet + photoTHE BACK STORY: The Language of Little Girls is something of a memoir, the poems tracing a roughly chronological evolution from bewildered and powerless girl to reflective, self-ironic adult. The initial child-voice continues in maturity with the Cora poem sequence; other remembered voices enter, notably that of the Italian grandmother. The final poem, “On the Boulevard,” returns to memories of girlhood. The poems in this collection were culled from hundreds written over a twenty year period, with the majority written within the last few years or so.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The title poem is the oldest poem in the collection and was written prior to the birth of my daughter – who is now 20. I picked it up again, intending to write a sequence with this title and did complete a second, much shorter poem, “The Language of Little Girls: Doll Babies.” Instead, the sequence morphed into a book in which my memories – always told “slant,” as Dickinson says, are melded with my concerns about mothering my girl in a world that is beautiful but still painfully hostile to women.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Poetry is a hard sell no matter who the poet is and I have no illusions that my book will ever have a large audience, but for readers who enjoy language play, memoir, and stories about women’s lives, these poems may be worth spending some time with. My book is a collection of female voices and I’ve been told that the individual poems/voices merge to become a collective voice of resolute, resilient womanhood.


“The girls and women in this collection are not delicate sentimental creatures, but rather fascinating and sometimes alarming women steeped in the lore of the female, connecting up with nature in unexpected ways…. There are few current poetry books that are truly hard to put down, but this is one of them.” — Janet McCann, The Mom Egg Review.

“Kate Falvey’s new collection of poetry, The Language of Little Girls, reads as a compendium of unforgettable female voices; the book abounds with sketches of compelling, thoughtful, unruly, questioning, and complex women and girls.” – Dante DiStefano, Arcadia Literary Review.

“With a language both muscular and elegant, as well as cunningly original, Kate Falvey draws us in and weaves her delightful stories around us until we cannot escape and do not wish to! I could not stop reading these lyrical tales, these blank verse romps, these intimate and delicious forays into the fertile/febrile mind of Falvey’s precocious female characters. One girl glimpsed through a prism? Many girls? Who cares? I love this kind of smart. The way everything gets noticed and noted, how details glow by the time a sentence is spent. Inhale these poems! They are gorgeous, daring, playful, theatrical, and, above all else, magical.”– Maureen Seaton, author of Fibonacci Batman: New and Selected Poems

“Kate Falvey’s The Language of Little Girls is a beautiful meditation on history and inheritance. Here, the natural world is a partner, comes alive through incredible images that invite readers into the magic of the world around us in which ‘God is a two-way mirror.’ This book is full of wonder and delight, beautiful language and profound insights into the nature of memory and maturity. This is wise, funny, and generous voice and I am so happy these poems and this collection, are among us. Falvey’s work is indeed, ‘a triumphant dazzle…’.” — Crystal Williams, author of Troubled Tongues

AUTHOR PROFILE: My work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. In addition to my book, I’ve published two chapbooks, both with indie presses: What the Sea Washes Up (Dancing Girl Press) and Morning Constitutional in Sunhat and Bolero (Green Fuse Poetic Arts). I edit the 2 Bridges Review (, published through City Tech/CUNY, where I teach, and am an associate editor for N.Y.U. Langone Medical Center’s Bellevue Literary Review. I have also published work for children, book reviews, scholarly articles on women writers, and a ridiculous array of encyclopedia and reference guide articles. The reference guide articles – which I refer to as “academic journalism” — involved a lot of research but were short – and radically deadlined – which allowed me to continue to publish academically-oriented work while raising a child as a single mother.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: In the era of “Me, Too,” and bold, overt statements from courageous women about their encounters with predatory men, my work seems almost quaint in its inability to come clean and clear – but I’ve spent a life-time telling my truths “slant” and will doubtless continue to use image and juxtaposition of stories and voices to suggest rather than expose. I’ve always been drawn to the life-forces of older women. Now that I am old myself, I am even more (self-ironically) cognizant of my self-appointed educator’s/poet’s/mother’s role of guardian of young women.


The Terrible Miss Terrell

She was, in P.S. 103, the tyrant of 3-K.

Miss D. looked starched and pre-arranged

with her brusque flannel slacks

and studied frowns, doling out symmetrical

rounds of yellow dough for us to lump into

cheery Christmas ashtrays. Yet she was

no match for Miss T, who looked the perfect

picture book grandma: spectacles and frizzled hair,

and pleated floral skirts outspread with what might have been

a bountiful lap. If she wasn’t secretly a ghoul.

The girls

could play in the wooden half-house,

the back cut away so we couldn’t get stuck.

The boys could play with wooden blocks,

but not the girls.

If you inched too close to the border of the boys,

Miss T. would snatch you back and stuff you

in a corner, where Miss D. would lurk

and shame you into tears. Miss T., as anyone could see,

controlled Miss D.’s direction. Miss D.

said “naughty, naughty” and made you

wash your hands, and caught you doing things

you didn’t know you did

but that you did.

Miss T., however, pinched each day

into sticky traps in which

only naughty happened

and caught you doing things

you didn’t know you did,

and didn’t.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Barnes and Noble Amazon:

WordTech Communication: PRICE: $19.00 (on sale at Amazon)

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I don’t have any social media accounts, though I’m thinking of succumbing to the need for self-promotion and doing an author website. Email address: kfalvey@citytech.cuny.ed

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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

One thought on “The Language of Little Girls”

  1. You’re right, but I think the shelf life of books is more like cantaloupes than cereal boxes. 

    Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class (Permanent Press, 2015) is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.



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