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Spotlit Girl

Poetry, Wick Chapbook


“Kevin Oberlin’s deft sonnets, like the Texas chanteuse they describe, are lively and picaresque, ‘nervy’ and ‘coy,’ and they unreel their story with dazzling speed.”—Michael Collier

“In sonnets so marvelously subtle and fluid that we don’t even wake up to the fact that they are sonnets, Kevin Oberlin guides us into the life of a girl in the spotlight. These little A-list marvels of craft open up the world of a young B-list Texas jazz singer, her over-the-top mother, her venues, her agent, and her creepy fans. Oberlin makes it clear that despite the details of hotels, cell phones, poker hands, and trips to the gym, these poems are more importantly about persistence, bravery, the sweat beneath the shine, and the act of singing itself. He’s written an ars poetica, a poet’s take on a singer’s soul. There’s no chaff here, only a handful of beautiful, flexible, elastic sonnets written with natural ease.”—Molly Peacock

“No star-struck lover or dark mistress inhabits these lively sonnets but a flesh-and-blood, poker-playing Texan with a cell phone, an agent, an anxious mother, and a load of her own worries as she tries to make it in the music business. From the Star Spangled Banner at a racetrack to the warm-up for B. B. King, Spotlit Girl is a nimble character study that captures both the craziness of a performer’s life and the time-stopping intimacy between a vocalist and her audience. The singer’s in the spotlight, and Kevin Oberlin has the focus and the dazzle to make her shine.”—Don Bogen


Kevin Oberlin holds an M.F.A. from the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati. His poems have appeared in Quarterly West, North American Review, DIAGRAM, and Forklift, Ohio.