Books

‘Jackalope’ plays with myth in modern day

Jackalope” by Denise Low (Red Mountain Press, 152 pages, $19.95, paperback)

The mythical jackalope – a jackrabbit with antelope’s antlers – may have had its origins in Wyoming, but the creatures, particularly popular on souvenir postcards, have been “spotted” across the country and the myth has only grown.

The jackalope of Denise Low’s creation is a friendly, gender-changing, juniper-juice-drinking storyteller but also a bit of a trickster – as rabbits tend to be in Native American lore – whose worldview is tinged with both humor and the occasional world-weariness.

Through this collection of poems and short, vignette-type stories, Low plays with the idea of a myth in the modern day: Jackalope (“Jack” or “Jaq,” depending on gender) has distinctly 21st-century experiences, usually beginning by “walking into” a place. In the stories, Jackalope “walks into” meetings, lectures, galleries, a wide variety of bars, even a Sherman Alexie narrative. But the ghosts of history are never far away: Custer, Quantrill, the Native Americans who came before.

The stories are by turns amusing and thought-provoking; some work better than others. And Low’s poetry is always wonderful, in the true, “wonder” sense of the word – so much that one wishes there were more of them in this collection.

Lisa McLendon teaches journalism at the University of Kansas. Reach her at lisa.mclendon@gmail.com.

IF YOU GO

Denise Low reading and workshop

WHO: Denise Low, former Kansas Poet Laureate and author of “Jackalope”

WHAT: Channeling Your Inner Trickster: A workshop for prose writers and poets, followed by a reading from “Jackalope”

WHEN: Wednesday, Dec. 16. Workshop is 4-5:30 p.m.; reading at 6 p.m.

WHERE: Watermark Books, 4701 E. Douglas

HOW MUCH: Tickets for the workshop are $30 and include a copy of the book; the reading is free.

For more information, call 316-682-1181.

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