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Topic: Geoffrey Nilson

A Song from the House of Moans: The Wig-Maker by Janet Gallant & Sharon Thesen

In The Wig-Maker, Janet Gallant’s tragic and transformative memoir-as-serial-poem written in collaboration with award-winning poet and editor Sharon Thesen, the art of wig-making anchors the text as both vocation and metaphor for healing and self-creation. A kind of time-travelling polyphonic bildungsroman, The Wig-Maker narrates a story of graphic violence, sexual abuse, racism, and parental abandonment that is shocking both for its plain-spoken depictions and for its desire to understand the human beings who commit these brutal acts: “My whole life I’ve had this yearning / but loss just comes” (“questions unanswered”). Gallant sings the “moan” of her life and the life of her family through the lyric lineation of Thesen’s verse, like a libretto for an opera soon to be composed.