By Carrie Fountain
Published in 2014 by Penguin.
Reviewed by Tony Burnett.
Having encountered the work of Carrie Fountain in several well-known literary journals I was pleased and enamored with her 2010 release of Burn Lake. I found her work to be intelligent and accessible with the feisty activism of youth and more questions than answers. Writing with a knife’s edge narrative that took no prisoners, she became one of the poets I tried to emulate.
Four years later we find a different Carrie Fountain. She has moved from the dry deserts of Southern New Mexico and made her home in Austin. She’s married and the mother of a young daughter. Her writing, too, has matured. Though she hasn’t lost her edge or accessibility, she has found some solace and some answers, though fortunately for us, not all the answers. The poems of Instant Winner reflect not only a truce with her surroundings but also a spiritual realization. Even the title suggests a more positive relationship with her environment. Though questions still abound, Instant Winner is more of a celebration; a celebration of motherhood, of releasing the angst and defining her place. She even tells herself “Nice Job”.
The work has four sections. Near the beginning and the end of each section is a poem titled “Prayer”. The poems struggle with relocation, adaptation, understanding and ultimately hopefulness. She hasn’t lost her ability to see things with a unique vision. Though she has even embraced domesticity to an extent, one might say she still has her moments.
“Today I am a spoon among forks.
Yesterday I was a fork among knives.
Sometimes I am the knife.”
If you have a passion for poetry that delves deeply into relationships with self, with the world and with spirituality while retaining an infectious energy and edge, pick up Instant Winner. Carrie Fountain will likely become one of your favorite poets, even if you have to wait four more years for her next release.
Tony Burnett has been a member of the Writers’ League of Texas since 2010 and currently serves on the Board of Directors. His story collection, Southern Gentlemen, will be released January 10, 2015. He resides with his trophy bride, Robin, deep in the heart of Texas.