Site design: Skeleton
Dakota Fruit, Poems by Catherine Cobb Morocco
The narrator of Dakota Fruit is coming of age endowed with music, art, and a broad worldview, yet ignorant of the calamity that has pushed her family to the rural West. Sensing her parents' displacement, she seeks solace and beauty by skating on thin river ice "where a girl disappeared," and gazing at images of Venus and Mary in Renaissance art books. Words and imagery reflect the daughter's longing to pierce her father's emotional remoteness. Poems in the mother's voice reveal the cost of the father's politics and his devastation at having a disabled son. McCarthyism and child autism threaten the bonds and tenacity of this American family during the 1950s.
"'I weave,' asserts the young narrator of Catherine Cobb Morocco's Dakota Fruit, 'not for saintliness / to lighten Mother's load, but for the sake of the jewel's / comforting weight, ripe as fruit in my palm, and for my pleasure in tidy stitching, the beauty of a sutured wound.' These lines epitomize the quiet insurgency that is the heart of this stunning collection. The narrator's father, landing in the Dakotas, learns to hunt ducks to distract the locals from his Marxist leanings during the blight of McCarthyism. Fascinated by the exotically bucolic terrain, the daughter reconnoiters the territory of silo surfing, of goofy concert band uniforms, and of a brother who is baited as 'moron,' with an affecting blend of empathy and resistance. Each poem is a gorgeous bead on a string that keeps unexpectedly breaking and then mending itself. In almost every line, plangency and poignancy are woven with threads of a delicate sturdiness, an elegant toughness."--Tom Daley, House You Cannot Reach
"Dakota Fruit is a vivid and moving book of contrasts: East Coast Ivy League traditions and a South Dakota small town; the author's reserved parents and the gusto of a friend's family; unequal realities of white and Native American citizens; contrasting expectations in female and male childhoods. The immediacy of Catherine Morocco's recollections brings the reader smack into her reality, different as it may be from one's own. I have never killed a catfish, tried to swim in the grains of a silo, or played the cello in a school band uniform. Yet 'Nightmare cat' 'Corn dust sifts into my ears,' and 'Calluses on my fingertips are tough as feet' take me there. This book brings us an entire family in its loving ambiguities-the parents' uneasy relationship; a forbidding grandmother; the heartbreaking portrayals of a beloved, autistic brother ('David Broken'). Through it all, the passionate young girl who would later write Dakota Fruit takes note and stores her memories."--Susan Donnelly, The Path of Thunder
Catherine Cobb Morocco is the author of a previous book of poetry,Moon without Craters or Shadows and a chapbook,Prairie Canto. Her poems appear in journals, includingThe Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, Salamander, and Hamilton Stone Review. Her poem, "Son's Story," won the Dana Foundation (Neuroscience) Prize for poetry about the brain. She first-authored two books for educators, Visionary Middle Schools, with Nancy Brigham and Cynthia Mata Aguilar and Supported Literacy for Adolescents, with Cynthia Mata Aguilar and Carol J. Bershad. Catherine grew up in South Dakota and lives in Newton, Massachusetts.