If I Go Missing

If I Go Missing
Carol Lynne Knight
introduction by Diane Wakoski
Fernwood Press


What happens when the ex-wife of an ex-cop, with a penchant for TV detectives, speculates about her own disappearance?

In this thoughtful journey, fictional detectives examine her house, her belongings, her lovers, and her longings. Who has disappeared in this finely drawn and sometimes humorous sequence of poems? Poem by poem, Carol Lynne Knight mixes imaginary investigations with the intimate, often stark, reality of life as the wife of a street cop in South Florida.

The Missing series began when Knight, watching the slow, careful investigation of Swedish detective, Kurt Wallander, hoped he would be the detective assigned to her case if she ever disappeared. In this sequence, imagine each poem beginning with the instruction, “If I go missing, send XXX to find me.”

Knight presents a mix of sensual experience, dreaming. and procedural detail in this surprising, and original trope. What follows is a mélange of the essentials of a fictional detective’s personality as he or she explores aspects of Knight’s world. Characters from “NYPD Blue,” “CSI Miami,” and “Homicide: Life on the Street,” among others search for her, detail by detail, and reveal an observant, funny, and spiritual poet. 

A romp of the original detective, Sherlock Holmes, ends in London with the escape of the kidnapper. In “Abandoned Car Park,” she counts down her last minutes kneeling in a suicide vest in a French car park. An assessment of Vera Stanhope’s frumpy attire results in a shopping spree and a lost earring. At the conclusion of an interview of a fictional ex-husband by British detectives, Bailey and Scott, she hurls his old Playboy magazines into the front yard and paints her bathroom red.

That Knight was the wife of a street cop informs even the imaginary with an authentic truth. There is an intelligence, a longing, and desire evident in every poem. Each of the book’s five sections is introduced by a prose poem, followed by an edgy, short poem that establishes a mood for what follows.

In this riveting collection, Carol Lynne Knight serves as detective, victim, and villain in smoky, noir poems at once sultry and dangerous, direct and nuanced, all “speech merged with speed, with confession,” visiting the daily rituals of entrapment and escape among bullets, grocery bills, and late night vodka. How to reconcile the mundane with the thrill of the rescue, the “ruptured life” reforming itself somewhere beyond betrayal, where the poet finds herself again and again in unexpected ways—and somehow, in reading, we found ourselves as well. If I Go Missing spirals toward its own transcendence—not outward, but inward—an escape back into one’s own beloved life, a disappearance and an emergency and an emergence.

Chad Sweeney, author of Little Million Doors and Parable of Hide and Seek

In Carol Lynne Knight’s If I Go Missing, her fearless speaker invokes the phrase “find me” as a mantra to a host of fictional detectives from Columbo to Kurt Wallander. Using vivid, voice-driven narratives and lush, figurative language, Knight’s poems combine postulation and autobiography to carefully interrogate the tension between idealized TV detectives and the hard domestic realities of living with a cop during and after the 1980 McDuffie Riots in Miami. Part persona and part investigation of self, this book plumbs how we extend our deepest yearnings into imaginary realms and how we grapple with violence, love, danger, and betrayal. If I Go Missing is an utterly unique hymn to human fragility and failure and ultimately holds up the twin powers of desire and imagination as our most reliable redeemer.

Erika Meitner, author of Useful Junk and Holy Moly Carry Me

Carol Lynne Knight is the co-director of Anhinga Press, where she supervises production, and designs covers and text, and edits books. She is the author of three books of poetry, If I Go Missing (Fernwood Press, 2022), A Fretted Terrain, Like Mars (Apalachee Press, 2020) and Quantum Entanglement (Apalachee Press, 2010). She is the co-editor of Snakebird: Thirty Years of Anhinga Poets.

Her poetry has appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, Louisiana Literature, Tar River Review, Poetry Motel, Earth’s Daughters, The Ledge, Slipstream, Broome Review, J, Comstock Review, Northwest Florida Review, Epicenter, Redactions, Iconoclast, Epicenter, HazMat, So to Speak, Down in the Dirt Magazine, Cagibi, Rivet, Slink Chunk and in the anthologies Off the Cuffs (Soft Skull Press), Touched by Eros (Live Poets Society), The Poets Guide to the Birds (Anhinga Press), Beloved on the Earth (Holy Cow! Press), and North of Wakulla (Anhinga Press).

Born in Michigan, she grew up in South Florida and graduated from the University of Miami and Florida State University with degrees in Art Education. She has exhibited her drawings, pottery, sculpture and computer images in the eastern U.S. In other lives, she has worked as an art teacher, potter, videographer, and graphic designer. She lives in Tallahassee, Florida.

Author Website: carollynneknight.com


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