Aire Celeste Norell's The Ugly Duckling & Other American Tragedies
Much of the essence in The Ugly Duckling & Other American Tragedies lies in the author’s attempt to share the multiple facets of herself. Aire Celeste Norell manages, throughout the length of this collection to weave her social views (animal rights among some) and insights from her personal sexual experiences with surprising ease.
Yet, as strong as these two themes are pronounced, neither draws attention away from the rest of her work. Other poems deal in themes of family, neighborhood-watching and pet ownership - pertaining perhaps not only to cat owners, but pet owners in general.
What's most striking about The Ugly Duckling is Norell's ability to juxtapose her serious explorations with a self-aware, lighthearted, and witty resignation as in the poem 'The Married Woman:'
I want to keep dating
-not for a new relationship
-not for sex
but so I can become a part of more people’s
I want to wet myself in the flood of men (and women!)
who will answer my ad-“sexy librarian type seeks…”
I want to tell my life story
To someone who’s never heard it
Who listens with the attentiveness
Only someone hoping to get laid
Can give me
I’ll order everything on the side
And eat everything
I’ll sing along to the radio
Change stations until I find hip hop
Then switch to country
And I’ll leave the instant I’m no longer
Norell knows what she writes are serious and controversial themes, but she’d rather not bring the reader down with heavy introspection and often-used social clichés. Instead, she uses playful characterization to express her sentiments-a far less traveled but just as rewarding path.
Aire Celeste Norell is a native Californian who has also lived in Massachusetts and Oregon. She earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Shortly after being declared an "instant favorite" by the Redondo Poets, she appeared as a featured poet both at the 'Two Idiots Peddling Poetry' reading in Orange and at WorldFest 2003.
Her work also appears in the December 2003 issue of The Blue House and on her website.
(The Ugly Duckling & Other American Tragedies, 2003 Aire Celeste Norell, 32 pages)