by Lauren Tivey
A Poetry Box Chapbook Prize Winner – First Place, 2019
Moroccan Holiday is a poetic series following a married couple—an American woman, and her Scottish husband—on an extended vacation in Morocco. As the husband suffers an extreme alcoholic relapse, the couple confronts longstanding issues of disease, abuse, and painful family memories, against the rich backdrop of an unfamiliar culture.
“Lauren Tivey embarks on a trip to Morocco, a foreign landscape of exciting people, smells, and destinations, with her alcoholic husband. She carries with her a dread of what she may face with her husband’s disease in a Muslim country. In beautifully-executed and moving poetic forms, she takes the reader with her through the landscapes of Ramadan and his alcoholism, family histories with drunkenness and rehab, and her moments of stillness when she is alone with mint tea and her journal. We feel how hard it is to stuff love, fear, and compassion in a suitcase just to unpack again in a new port of call.”
~ Tricia Knoll, Contest Judge, 2019
author of How I Learned to Be White and Broadfork Farm
About the Author
Lauren Tivey is the author of four chapbooks, most recently Moroccan Holiday, which was the winner of The Poetry Box Chapbook Prize 2019, and The Breakdown Atlas & Other Poems (Big Table Publishing Company, 2011). Tivey is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her work has appeared in Connotation Press, The Coachella Review, and Split Lip Magazine, among dozens of other web and print publications in the U.S. and U.K.
After much international travel, including a six year stint living in China, she now resides with her husband, and a little black cat named Poppet, in a cottage surrounded by flower gardens in St. Augustine, Florida. She teaches English and Creative Writing at Flagler College.
Tivey can be reached at her writing blog: https://laurentivey.wordpress.com
What They’re Saying . . .
In this stunning collection of finely wrought poems, Lauren Tivey writes of a holiday with deep pain and small joys. The speaker takes us on a journey of trauma as her husband relapses into alcoholism during the vacation, and tells of her difficult responses to his behavior. His disease of unrelenting suffering transforms the couple. He is, she says, “…a brute / swimmingly sloshed…” and she wonders if she can “…save him / somehow from chasm’s edge.” She writes “I keep talking to fill the silence, the absence / of his presence, in a blue city beyond the sea.” The poems are, in fact, brilliantly alive with shades of blue, some bright and cheery, and others darker, more sinister. As this couple journeys, she is wracked with agony, though the speaker does find momentary happiness that her husband’s “…eyes are clear in the luminosity / of negative ions—sea, sun, wind—an elemental / cleansing.” These poems pull the reader in with their heartbreaking urgency, history, and quests. Deeply moving, always expressing complex ideas in radiant language and astonishing details, Moroccan Holiday is a must-read book that sings the duality of love and estrangement.
~ Virginia Chase Sutton, author of What Brings You to Del Amo
These poems, gathered so astutely in Moroccan Holiday, have such exquisite and crisp detail that they will haunt you for a while. “Circus,” “The Nomad,” and “Hunger” are a few perfect examples, among the many in this book, of poems that will take you by the throat and choke you with their undeniable power and brilliance. Rich images, lyrical lines that are relentless in their beauty. These poems resonate with a lush wickedness of the tongue “of two broken people craving delights of the orchard” and the bitterness of people who’ve had to battle alcoholism and marriage and love for a long while. “I’ve grown tired of the stale taste of beer, bars, men. There are better things to do.” These are magnificent poems written against the backdrop of our crumbling world, Morocco, and beyond.
~ Virgil Suarez, author of 90 Miles: Selected and New Poems
Written with startling poignancy and richness, Lauren Tivey’s collection of poems, Moroccan Holiday, narrates a couple’s troubled voyage to a place “used to ruin,” seesawing between the splendor of its setting and the upcoming catastrophe into the depths of alcoholism and its legacy. The book starts “on a boat…gliding across the iridescent bay” on way to holiday, and quickly thrusts us into the precipice of Tangier, with its one-legged beggar, insane woman with oozing skin lesions, and scattering rats, which parallels their descent and struggle to prevail, as individuals and as partners. The poet asks, “I want to know when / to give up on someone.” The reader is left pondering this and other brutal questions, but it is clear that “moments of gladness exist.” Tivey’s work is a compelling case study, both fascinating and surprisingly compassionate, absolutely worth reading.
~ Carolina Hospital, author of Key West Nights and Other Aftershocks
Travel and travail share a common root, revealing at a deep linguistic level that to journey is to suffer. Change and transformation are by nature difficult. The travelers in Moroccan Holiday do indeed go far, traversing physical continents and emotional minefields. Lauren Tivey is an uncanny poet, conjuring metaphor and image to convey the tale of a husband and wife at the edge of love’s limit, where they are pushed by his relapse into alcoholic toxicity. The weight of their pasts and the exhaustion of carrying it all provide a sharp contrast to the cinnamon-scented streets and lush-laden markets of Morocco that would otherwise have beguiled them. The poems deliver a mix of seduction and despair, sorrow and enchantment (so many names for blue in this heady place). Through travel and travail, the woman and man somehow endure, learning how to lay down the burdens handed to them long ago and to take delight in the pleasures of their precarious present.
~ Holly Iglesias, author ofSleeping Things
Lauren Tivey’s Moroccan Holiday is a gorgeous, heartrending blue tempest that charts the roughhousing of addiction in a dry land with rich diction, depth, intelligence, and awareness. Despite tumult, the center never wavers, clear among the significant lost boys, the poems’ hope and generosity rising like Morocco’s pink wild roses and, yes, they do make a “difference to the world.”
~ Liz Robbins, author of Freaked