In Monsoon Solo, psychological undercurrents are explored with the speed and ferocity of the Mississippi River, that vast artery that cuts through America’s heartland. These poems travel—from the river’s muddy banks to roadside motels; from buses packed with after-schoolers to rush-hour-congested commuter trains; and from desolate alleys to city streets teeming with lap dogs, trash cans and newsstands.
The poems’ speakers, even when in a crowd, are alone. They harbor secrets. Like hungry ghosts, they feed on the unspoken, grapple with the stuff of nightly news: sex, death and other people’s money. Haunted by the past, they tell urgent stories.
Praise for Monsoon Solo
“Gretl Claggett writes very exact and graceful poems that explore the dark corners of life. This is not nice poetry. It’s powerful work that sticks in the head long after reading.”
“Searing stuff. The poet’s people are identified at defining times of their lives. Monsoon Solo is a real page-turner. The reader has to know what happens next in these vivid dramas.”
“With a rare combination of boldness and grace, Gretl Claggett writes her luminous poems. Her uncanny emotional intelligence and unerring sense of drama guide her lines toward metaphorical richness and psychological revelation. For those of us who turn to poetry for the startling surprise, for the luxury of image, for a whole landscape in a handful of lines, Claggett is the poet to read and cherish.”
“Gretl Claggett’s poems are at once drawn irresistibly to the human world—to its ardors and longings, its terrible accidents and violence—and shocked and stunned by it. The fullness of their moral power stems from the ability this poet has to stand at the center of exquisite, dangerous tension and not turn away, not draw back in fear, not flinch.”
“The poems in this collection are brave, strong and beautifully crafted. Gretl Claggett has an eye for the resonant, suggestive image and a rare ability to tell a story in lines. There’s a rightness of both rhythm and tone that’s imperative to these searing poems, with their mordant wit and wisdom, their inward and outward transformation. Monsoon Solo will capture an audience that likes its poetry vital and necessary.”
About the Author
GRETL CLAGGETT is a creator, director and writer committed to telling singular stories that entertain and catalyze conversations that can transform cultures.
Gretl’s first film Happy Hour — narrated by Julianne Moore — is based on true events and a poem from her book, Monsoon Solo: Voices Once Submerged. The film screened as an official selection at 18 festivals, winning several awards and garnering praise from Oscar-winning Writer/Director Robert Benton: “Happy Hour is a lush, elegiac film about an extremely difficult subject and Ms. Claggett handles it masterfully.”
Happy Hour is now available on iTunes and Amazon in association with a nonprofit campaign. All proceeds go to a small group of nonprofits whose focus is treating and preventing sexual abuse and promoting healthy relationships.
Gretl’s second award-winning film, STORMCHASER, is a nuanced satire that allegorizes this era in “Merica”: global warming, disaster capitalism, Trump, #metoo, a shrinking middle class and country divided. The film features a fierce female lead, played by Mary Birdsong, and co-stars Stephen Plunkett and Dominic Rains as the two men she’s torn between. Company 3 color-graded the 4K version and is sponsoring a High Dynamic Range finish to the film, which was the first indie to shoot on Sony Venice CineAlta cameras with Sigma Cine lenses.
Another passion of Gretl’s is pioneering the use of innovative technologies to shape inspiring brand stories. She wrote and directed Sony’s first-ever 4K 360° cinematic music video, which premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show and was featured in Sony’s activation at SXSW. She leads creative on high-profile events, such as Entertainment Weekly’s inaugural festival, PopFest, in Downtown LA, and IBM’s Partner World in San Fransisco and its Amplify Conference on Watson Cognitive Marketing in Las Vegas. One of her specialties is merging live performance with state-of-the-art multimedia. “Cognitive in Motion,” IBM Amplify’s opening experience — which she conceptualized, wrote, directed and produced, incorporating ‘pop & lock’ dancers, Notch (real-time generated art) and IBM cognitive data visualizations — won two top Telly Awards.
Gretl holds MFAs in poetry, creative nonfiction and acting, respectively from Sarah Lawrence College, Goucher College and Western Illinois University. As an actress, she performed at New York theaters such as Playwrights Horizons, Circle in the Square, Soho Rep, La MaMa and HERE, and at many regional theaters including Actors Theater of Louisville.
Gretl recently directed 3 episodes of the comedic digital series, Chronicles of a BLEEP Year Old Woman. She’s currently developing a memoir manuscript, a feature-length and a long-form narrative project.