A reminder that breaking is another kind of rebirth.
“Happy, Okay? is a beautifully written meditation filled with poignant and lyrical revelations on the joys, pains, and complications of life and the daily struggle to survive, create, and love.”
―Edwidge Danticat, internationally acclaimed Haitian-American novelist and short story writer
“M.J. Fievre’s Happy, Okay? offers us a hybrid reading experience. In this poem-play, or play-poem ‘a shadow/woman, a charcoal sketch’ journeys through the labyrinth of Big Pharma, a difficult love affair, and self-reflection to reach moments of the divine. Though hopeful, Happy, Okay? is not a happily-ever-after tale, but a realistic look at mental illness, the patriarchy, race, and gender. M.J. Fievre beautifully conjures a complex inner life under Miami's glaring sun.”
―Denise Duhamel, guest editor of The Best American Poetry
“In Paloma, M.J. Fievre has created a woman struggling for self-discovery. This is not easy when Paloma knows all too well that at the borders of existence dwell darkness, depression, and dead-eyed grief. A place where love can be both oasis and razor; where affection can become a ghostly and fleeting affliction not easily healed by words or human touch. Paloma travels these borderlands―far beyond grim silences and all-consuming shadows; far beyond medications like Zoloft, Prozac & Luvox that have comprised the lexicon of her human imbalance to ultimately reach the true north of human love. Love of self, and love of others. Ultimately, it is through Paloma’s journey that we can all learn to heal―if we remember to breathe, practice gratitude, and self-care. And above all else, keep the faith.”
―Rich Ferguson, L.A. poet/novelist/spoken-word performer
“Think of this beautiful book as a toolkit of verse shedding light on what it’s like, what it’s really like, to suffer from, or love someone suffering from, anxiety and mental illness. A musical weapon of a fable for girls of all colors, so that they may manage a confusing world and save themselves with self-love.”
―Anjanette Delgado, author of The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho
“Clinical depression is a cold hand squeezing your heart. Anxiety feels like a close call with death. Reading Happy, Okay? told me I’m not alone in the struggle with mental illness. Paloma, the protagonist, goes from drowning in a sea of hopelessness to swimming to the shore of joy, deftly sharing with the reader tools to navigate the murky waters of her brain. In the end, happiness requires some work from within. I know it first-hand. On reading M.J. Fievre’s narrative poem, I believe the reader will know too.”
―Lorraine C. Ladish, founder of VivaFifty.com & TheFlawedYogini.com
“M.J. Fievre has written a classic Greek drama set in Hialeah, a latticework of speech set, at first, on the stage of a Metrorail station, and then in the manifesto-ridden psyche of a Miami woman in the midst of a rebirth. And what’s more Miami than a reinvention? The story in Happy, Okay? is timeless―love gained, love lost―but the characters and setting are pure Miami. My heart leapt every time I came across a mamey, an azalea, or a sapote. I could hear the rara band. I could taste the cold bottle of Prestige. ‘Where we come from,’ Fievre writes, ‘no one has the luxury of self-loathing.’ This isn't the Miami you read about in brochures; it's the Miami where ‘the moon is throwing knives through the trees;’ ‘Coqui frogs sing their love-croaks;’ and the air smells like breadfruit. In other words, it's the Miami we love.”
―Scott Cunningham, founder/executive director of O, Miami
“M.J. Fievre’s Happy, Okay? is a healing balm, a rapturous song of the self, a reminder that breaking is just another kind of rebirth. Told in breathtaking monologues and poetry, Happy, Okay? examines the roles we wear and let loose, and the stories we hold in our shadows. This collection declares ‘You are here. Nowhere else. & you are divine.’ A must read! You’ll be happy you picked up Happy, Okay? and happy to share it with everyone you know.”
―Jennifer Maritza McCauley, author of SCAR ON/SCAR OFF
“M.J. Fievre’s poem, Happy, Okay, is an ambitious, fascinating, sprawling, multivoiced work that sucks the reader in and does not let go. In rhythmic, evocative poetry, Fievre brings to vivid life the story of Paloma and Jose Armando―with Shadow, a disembodied voice of pain and hurt, swirling around them and within them. In Fievre’s lines, the city of Miami, specifically its Hialeah neighborhood, becomes more than just the backdrop for these two lovers―in Happy, Okay, we hear and sense the sounds, sights, and languages, the patois of Haitians, Jamaicans and Cubans, the sweetness of tropical fruit. These lovers orbit each other in their pain and desire, but the reader will soon discover this is no mere tale of ill-fated lovers. It’s a meditation on what we need to be happy, and an exploration of that hard-won wisdom. This poem, this book, will both haunt and delight, tease and deliver. It's a world of wonder, and a salve for our troubled times.”
―Allison Joseph, author of Confessions of a Barefaced Woman
“In this brave and complex narrative poem, M. J. Fievre rips the veil from the face of mental illness, showing us a tortured emotional landscape that disavows the salvific potential of romance and eschews easy notions of escape from a mind inured in pain. Paloma, the female speaker in the poem, is keenly aware of the maelstrom of chaos, indeterminacy, and fragility that renders her internal landscape a site of trauma that will require therapy, medication, time, and interiority to restore.
“Happy, Okay? uses language that is raw, fresh, and at times, startling beautiful, to chart a myriad existence that recalls and implicates personal and political history, memory, home, family, and lived experience as sites of alterity, sustenance, alienation and possibility.
“Place is paramount in Fievre’s poem. Miami, the northernmost Caribbean city, is a uniquely American polyglot of Haitian Creole, Jamaican Patois, Cuban Spanish, cortaditos and café-crème. Rendered as co-conspirator in the trauma of erasure for the Black Caribbean female subject, Miami is also a site of reconstitution and re-memory.
‘Miami is a conspiracy of ravens
on telephone poles. Miami is roads
always under construction…’
“The Caribbean, a priori site of alterity, liminality and displacement, is also home. But it is a home that incites psychic and existential homelessness, silences and erasures with its disquieting and irreconcilable contradictions.
“Yet Paloma, while brutally honest, is never hopeless. Clear-eyed and unsentimental, she disavows facile notions of wholeness and unity in a world that fragments, displaces and discards with impunity. If she has one salvific wish, it is the wish to be her own messiah. She is fragile, yet stubbornly determined to name, define, dissect, and thereby claim ownership and authority over her depression, sedulously reaching for stability and empowerment via the aegis of audacious storytelling, rigorous self-excavation and emerging faith.”
―Donna Aza Weir-Soley, author of Eroticism, Spirituality, and Resistance in Black Women’s Writings and The Woman Who Knew