THE BOOK: Daughters

: 2021.

THE AUTHOR:  Brittney Corrigan

Airlie Press: a nonprofit publisher run by writers, dedicated to cultivating and sustaining fine contemporary poetry and to promoting poets from the Pacific Northwest.

SUMMARY: This collection reimagines characters from mythology, folklore, fairy tales, and pop culture from the perspective of their daughters—daughters we don’t expect such individuals to have, as we don’t usually think of Bigfoot, the Mad Hatter, or Medusa as parents. The persona poems in Daughters give voice to the guilt, resentment, and anger that may come with raising a child as well as explore the intertwining of these shameful feelings with pride and love. These figures are a new visioning, from the daughters’ perspective, of what it means to shape another human being. Taking on such topics as aging, rebellion, loss, domestic violence, homelessness, and gender identity, the voices of Daughters aim to upend the reader’s conceptions of the characters and throw light upon what it means for a girl to come out from under her parents as a woman of her own making.

Brittney Corrigan

THE BACK STORY: I’ve long had an interest in persona poems. My senior thesis at Reed College was a series of poems that re-envisioned animal transformation stories from folklore, fairy tales, and mythology, and many of the poems ended up in the persona form. Then, for two decades after I graduated, I wrote solely confessional poetry. The weekend of my 40th birthday in 2011, I attended a writing workshop in which we were asked to bring a poem we’d written about a difficult subject. We were then asked to take that same subject matter and try it as a persona poem. My interest in the genre was immediately rekindled.

The idea for the book began by accident. I wrote the first poem, “Scarecrow’s Daughter,” after turning again to the persona form. Around the same time, I was trying to write a poem from the perspective of Bigfoot. It wasn’t working at all, so I decided to rewrite it from the perspective of his imagined daughter, which was much more successful. When I finished that poem, it just happened to be the exact same length and format (six stanzas of six lines each) as Scarecrow’s Daughter. At that point, I decided I was on to something, and I began writing persona poems from the perspective of a wide variety of characters—all in the 6×6 form—until there were enough for a complete collection.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Definitely self-evident! 🙂

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?  These poems explore the persona form from a variety of different angles within the same collection. Those with an interest in revisioning mythology and folklore would find this collection interesting, as would women (and others) coming of age and into their own identities, parents wrestling with relationships with their young adult/adult children, and folks interested in feminist poetry.


“Brittney Corrigan is a sorceress of voices. Never have I read persona poems as deeply true and wholly convincing as the ones gathered in this stunning collection. In poem after poem, Corrigan shape-shifts—now the daughter of a magician’s assistant, a surgeon, a seismologist, the Medusa, the Yeti, and more—mining history, myth, fairy tales, and the professions to explore the conceit of daughterhood. By the time I got to the end of this gorgeous book, with all its richly imagined lives, I felt in the presence of a great daughterly chorus, one that tells us ‘the story of [our] own longing.’ Revelatory, authentic, and moving, Daughters tears off the masks, taking us to the heart of what it means to be female, human, and alive.” —Alison Townsend, author of Persephone in America

“Before we are women, we are daughters, clothed in the superstitions of others and shaped by beliefs, talents, interests, and traumas that are not our own. Brittney Corrigan knows this. She knows how much the present depends upon the past and knows, too, that the truest work of growing up for a girl lies in sloughing off that which does not belong to you in pursuit of that which does. The poems in this stunning collection delve deeply into the highly empathetic gesture of persona, embodying the daughters of characters from history, the headlines, and mythology to trace how we are formed and how we, in turn, shed and gather into our own unique selves. With luminous language, arresting imagery, surprising form, and a marrow-deep knowledge of love and loss, the poet shines in this excavation of context and identity, this praise song for the stretching of limbs toward the light—and for the irrepressible essence of girls becoming. A beautiful, unforgettable work of artful love.” — Stacey Lynn Brown, author of The Shallows and editor of A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry

“Beyond the cleverness of these vividly specific, playfully imagined persona poems—which draw from the language of professions like taxidermy to time travel to the Minotaur—are Corrigan’s deft insights into human emotions, and the array of ways we understand ourselves and who we come from. ‘We sing / for the same reason cranes sing, / or the deepening whales, / or a whole fierce chorus of wolves,’ Siren’s Daughter says, correcting male hubris, in one of my favorites. Corrigan creates an original and brilliantly fierce chorus.” —Alexandra Teague, author of The Wise and Foolish Builders

E:  Brittney Corrigan is the author of the poetry collections DaughtersBreakingNavigation, and 40 WeeksSolastalgia, a collection of poems about climate change, extinction, and the Anthropocene Age, is forthcoming from JackLeg Press in 2023. Brittney was raised in Colorado and has lived in Portland, Oregon for the past three decades, where she is an alumna and employee of Reed College. She is currently at work on her first short story collection, also exploring Anthropocene themes. In addition to writing, Brittney enjoys the outdoors (particularly the Oregon coast), is covered in a zoo of tattoos, and has a passion for all things Halloween and macabre. She collects artwork involving rabbits and York ghosts.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Daughters is about rethinking stereotypes and gender roles and considering why certain familiar stories resonate with us. I wanted to question gender roles and the stories that we tell ourselves and that are passed down to our daughters, exploring how we might tell these stories differently. As the project developed, I wanted it to be inclusive of many different kinds of daughters, and of how all kinds of women define themselves as daughters. The book was originally going to be dedicated to my younger child. Then, in the last year before the book came out, my kiddo came out as trans and didn’t want the book to be dedicated to them anymore. So the poem “Not {Daughter}” was written for them (and included with their permission). In that process, I began to rethink the binary of daughterhood. I was glad to have “Not {Daughter}” included, to expand the relevance of the collection to folks who may have been born female but don’t consider themselves daughters anymore. Or those who were not born female but also consider themselves daughters. It made me look at the whole concept of daughterhood differently, questioning what daughterhood means within a society and who it includes.




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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.

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