Dream Horse Press


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Juliana Gray's Roleplay
Winner of the 2010 Orphic Poetry Book Prize
ISBN 978-0-9821155-9-6

Praise for Roleplay


"Juliana Gray . . . is a beautiful and keen poet. My word, a gifted vision, almost egoless and yet fullhearted."
 Barry Hannah


"Juliana Gray finds abundant inspiration in “the sudden turn within the everyday”— in family, Hitchcock, poetry itself. “Pointing into the view,” she moves nimbly between voices playful at times and darkly serious; Roleplay is wildly imagined, flawlessly crafted—a stunning collection."
Claudia Emerson


"To find such wit and canniness about self and sex in American poetry, we have to look back to Dorothy Parker. Of course, we can look across the Atlantic to Wendy Cope. Juliana Gray has their sense of style but something else, too, which is all her own. She has located the ferocious tension in the undercurrent of society, which comes out as slapstick in comedy and violence in tragedy, but in either case is the same thing: human desire in conflict. Gray’s inimitable humor is dark, indeed, but brilliant."Mark Jarman


"In her second collection, Roleplay, Juliana Gray continues to dazzle with deft language and dark humor. The agenda of “The Devil Plans His Day” begins “Up at daybreak with the crows. Starbucks. / Tell the anorexic goth barista / how beautiful she looks, and overtip.” In “Psycho,” from a series inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, we remember “the three rules of homicide”: “location location location.” An aging Nancy Drew lists herself on Match.com with “Turn-ons: lightning, crosswords, antique clocks.” Pop culture is just a stepping-stone for the poet, who wears her formal sensibilities lightly; playing wife to Philip Larkin, the safe word is “Ted Hughes.” Gray has the rare blend of confidence and deprecation needed to navigate themed sections (“Casting Call,” “Method”) that question identity, acting, and the inner life. This book is important—without seeming self-important—and each page an unexpected delight."
Sandra Beasley


  About the Author:

Juliana Gray's first book of poetry, The Man Under My Skin, was published by River City Publishing in 2005. Her poems have appeared in The Hopkins Review, New South, 32 Poems, and elsewhere. A native of Alabama, she is an associate professor of English at Alfred University in western New York.


  From Roleplay:


Portrait of My Sister as a Marble Ashtray


Thick and darkly veined as river ice,

and yes, as cold, it rests its heavy base

upon the table edge, serving vice

without reproach, just silent, spartan grace.

In countless films noir and TV shows,

such simple bowls, taken up in passion,

have brained a hundred heiresses and foes.

This kind of death comes in and out of fashion,

but power always lies in its potential:

the sudden turn within the everyday.

It sits, meanwhile, seeming inconsequential,

taken all for granted: the passive ashtray

mutely serving the smokers without acclaim,

both holding and extinguishing the flame.



Copyright 2012 Juliana Gray

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