Pansies, Carol Barrett's collection of thirty slight, delicate vignettes, recounts her experience of the Apostolic Lutheran community through the lens of the young, Apostolic woman, Abigail, who babysits for her daughter. Each brief yet intimate piece housed within this collection renders the indelible bond formed between Abigail and the narrator's daughter with grace and wonder. Barrett's prose is precise. Honed with care and a keen sense of language, each vignette distilled to its essential essence. The love and admiration Barrett develops for Abigail is palpable, as is Abbie's own devotion, not only to Barrett and her daughter, but her own community and way of life. Pansies is a vital, touching tribute to the necessity of human connection, and the astonishing power of transcending that which divides us.
About the Author
Carol Barrett holds doctorates in both clinical psychology and creative writing. She coordinates the Creative Writing Certificate Program at Union Institute & University. She also teaches in the Creativity Studies Program at Saybrook University. Carol has published in psychology, religious studies, gerontology, women's studies, medical, education, and dance and art therapy journals, in addition to literary magazines and anthologies. Her collection Calling in the Bones won the Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press. She has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Science Foundation. The present work came about when Carol hired a babysitter who was an Apostolic Lutheran - a group of largely Finnish descent, about whom there is currently no book in English. The group forbids the practice of birth control in any form. The bond that was forged between Carol's daughter and her Apostolic babysitter, called "Abigail" in this collection of true stories, is the center of the work. Along the way, Carol was challenged to transcend her initial impressions and prejudices about the community and its values.
“This is such a delicate, meditative and wonder-making book. Carol Barrett muses and the reader enters a magical world, evocative, loving and compassionate. These are soul songs, revelations like in the final piece, “Pensée,” as the author writes “like a glass ball that rains snow when turned upside down.” In these troubled and traumatic times, such glimpses into the mysteries of community are deliciously healing.”
- Stanford J. Searl, author of Songs for Diana, forthcoming from Kelsay Books in 2019.
“In Pansies, Carol Barrett stretches her readers' imagination and enriches their knowledge of religion by presenting a series of vignettes that are humorous, poignant, and inspirational. Each story is a gem that together form a necklace of a very special relationship."
- Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., co-author Personal Mythology
“Barrett’s Pansies is a stylistic study in compression and expansion: the skillful and evocative use of language, each word carrying its creative weight, coupled with the spaciousness of the prose format; a story within each individual piece and the extended story told through the linked narratives. The reader feels let in on something intimate and slightly troubling given the ascetic future of Abigail, the young, vibrant Apostolic babysitter the author hires to care for her daughter. Giving each short narrative its own page allows the reader to settle into each vignette, to savor such showstopper lines as ‘Amazing what the earth will bear.’ or ‘When night comes, those velvet hearts prepare to propagate.’”
- Ellen Waterston, author of Hotel Domilocos and Where the Crooked River Rises