They Used to Dance on Saturday Nights by Gillian Devereux

Poetry. 34 pages.
Trade paperback. August 2011.
ISBN 978-0-9823741-4-6

Read an excerpt  ‣  Book trailer  ‣  Reviews  ‣  About the Author


Mermaids, headless girls, Ferris wheels, women aflame. Bears who dance (or used to) and crowds who pay to watch. Whether you’re here for the conjoined twins or the trapeze artist, you’re bound to find yourself somewhere in Gillian Devereux’s sideshow.


“The fantastical tone carries you to a Tom Waits style of readability that grabs your hair and makes you watch the story unfold. Nobody but him has made the carnival so sexy, raw, or appealing until now.”

— Zach Fishel, Girls with Insurance

“I love it when a writer can take something extraordinary and special and put it in simple words. I also love it when a writer can take something simple and make it extraordinary and special. Gillian Devereux does both… When I finished this collection I could practically taste the pale pink sugar of the carnival cotton candy machine. I wanted to lick my sticky-sweet fingers clean.”

— Leesa Cross-Smith, Sundog Lit

“Devereux’s text is most admirable as a metaphor for illness and survival. Many of her characters are examinations of Plath’s ‘magician’s girl who does not flinch’, professionals geared to stoicism and efficiency that is nothing like the seemingly effortless magic perceived by their audience…Certainly this slim volume has something to teach us about magic and control, how indistinguishable the two often are from each other.”

— Lisa A. Flowers, TheThe Poetry

“…nothing in this chapbook has a time stamp. There’s no talk of technology, and the chapbook is absent of modern slang. Nevertheless, it feels modern. It feels modern in the way authors of previous centuries are still read because their perceptions and observations still apply. The sorts of people and personalities around today have probably been around since the beginning of humanity. By consistently keeping us at the carnival, Devereux manages to maintain the wonderment and lift the curtain simultaneously.”

— Gretchen Hodgin, JMWW

<pstyle=”text-align: justify;”=””>About the author

Gillian Devereux is the author of They Used to Dance on Saturday Nights (Aforementioned Productions) and Focus on Grammar (dancing girl press). Her most recent poems have appeared in NAP, apt, No Tell Motel, and Open Letters. She can be found online here, streaming pop music from the cloud.

The Way He Throws the Knife, an excerpt from They Used to Dance on Saturday Nights:

She left him five times. She stayed away all last season, hid in some random city, wore each new job like a costume, told lies about the past. No one knew the true story. No one spoke her name, but we imagined her happy, safe inside the ordinary world, free of the spotlight and the stage, disentangled from her sequined bodice and the slight tremble that sometimes strikes his left hand.

Quick as a shadow, she fell back into their old routine, her body flat against the wall, her breath held hostage to the knife. The target is all that matters. It’s her face, her fate, her fear on display. Her life risked for a restless audience. Statistics demand that the knife must hit its mark eventually. Still, she never flinches when the blade draws blood; she never cries or closes her eyes, not even when he kisses her slowly, not even when he breaks her heart.

The less you see, the less you fear. And yet she meets his gaze every night, watches as his thin arm takes aim at the outline of her body, the space shaped by silhouette and absence. Like any addiction, he consumes all thought, clouds memory, camouflages lust. It isn’t love that binds them. Love doesn’t lure her back. It’s just the way he throws the knife.