At a recent gathering of the newly formed Atlanta Women’s Poetry Collective, I had the pleasure of meeting Alice Teeter, an Atlanta poet I had known of for quite some time.
Teeter hosts a monthly poetry reading series, a salon that has a reputation for attracting some of the best poets who pass through or live in our city.
Elephant Girls (Aldrich Press, 2015), is Alice Teeter’s third collection of poetry. Didivded into three sections, Elephant Girls explores the myriad facets of the life of the mind and the body, with subjects such as love, desire, imagination, dreams, identity, history, and nature.
The speaker in the poems is fluid, changing from one poem to the next. In “The Sage,” the speaker explores meeting a woman at a conference and the feelings of lust this woman inspires. The speaker states, “her hot hand grasps your thigh,” but later in the poem the woman disappears and the speaker is left with “the person you were born to desire most of all/ the one you have been looking for/spread your hand she is always with you.”
In other poems, such as “The cat didn’t know which she liked best,” the speaker is an animal. In this poem, the cat contemplates which creature pleases her most, the bear or the man.
In this poem and many others, Teeter enters the world of imagination, where possums and skunks enter her car through an open window, a dog paces, alone and afraid, on the Day of the Dead, and big fish “swim like shadows” in dark water.
Teeter delves into the world of carnal pleasure, taking sensual delight in glazed donuts that she compares to “sendal thighs,” thus rendering an indulgence of food into an indulgence of the sensual pleasures of the body.
The stuff of everyday life appears in this collection; even toilet paper makes an appearance. In “Two-Ply,” three rhyming quartets
remember the speaker’s father and his “three-sheet rule.”
The poems in Elephant Girls range from playful to surreal and mythic. The wellspring of this book, full of free verse, sonnets, and other forms, is love-love of family, of the beloved, of lakes, vegetation, of all facets of life that emphasize the joy of being alive.