“Each [poem] is a compact little rock of Texas Gothic, thrown hard. Think Flannery O’Connor in verse, with less God and more rodeo.” So said Slate.com in its list of best books of 2008, which included Donna Trussell’s collection of poetry What’s Right About What’s Wrong, published by Helicon Nine.
Slate reviewer Melinda Henneberger (Dec. 16, 2008):
Even before Trussell was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2001—she got the call telling her to report for surgery while watching the Twin Towers fall—her work, as she says, “tended toward death, death, pet death, sex, love, death.”
But fierce or yearning, I love these ghosts—like Miss Candace Mayes, who surrendered her place in the last lifeboat off the Titanic to a mother who died years later of guilt, in an asylum where “Her hands would climb the trellis. Her feet were never still.” Of a daughter never conceived who calls, “[G]ive me your darkest winter, it will be spring to me.” And of a poet read posthumously, who can’t help asking: Who are you? What do you do? Tell me, is the sun out?
In 2006 Trussell’s outspoken essay Remember Me as a Writer, Not a Survivor on her struggle to regain ground lost to the trauma of illness, was published in Newsweek. Trussell had assumed her abysmal survival statistics would mybookcovermake emotional adjustment unnecessary, since death would soon upset the game board. But, as luck would have it, her remission held and Trussell began to write again.
Trussell’s poetry and fiction have appeared in North American Review, Poetry, Chicago Review and other magazines. Her short story
Fishbone, first published in TriQuarterly in 1989, has been was widely and internationally anthologized. The story was also performed as a play at Seattle’s Book It! Theatre and as a monologue by Arts & Letters Live at the Dallas Museum of Art.
A fifth-generation Texan, Trussell now lives in Kansas City. She’s worked as an editor, film critic and teacher, but her favorite job remains the one she had at the age of 16: Museum tour guide.
In addition to writing, Trussell collects bad art and occasionally volunteers for a cat rescue organization. She can be reached at donnatrussell at gmail dot com.