Gnashing Teeth Publishing

| words that get in your teeth

Before & After: Poems of Love & Grief

McAllister confronts the loss of her first-born son from overdose. These poems, written over the course of his lifetime and after his untimely death, weave in and out of the past, flow into a bleak present and hint at a much different future than she ever imagined. A mother’s infinite love interspersed with anguish and heartache, this book is a life-cycle of grief.


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Lisa McAllister delivers fiercely honest, mesmerizing poems depicting pivotal family moments. Her reconstruction of events – real and surreal – unveil a timeless limitless love for a son gone too soon. In the midst of loss, there is cleansing and a bittersweet joy in honoring a tenacious bond undefeated by separation.

Lisa McAllister’s Before & After is a searing book of struggles with oneself, the terrors of loss, and hope for a sustaining love to keep those she loves safe and fulfilled. It begins as “a story still being written,” descends into the “curse we called down on ourselves,” yet by turns is hopeful with “the saints, the gods, the sinners, and the poets” who watch and say “it is good.” The reader moves through a mother’s pregnancy with its uncertainties, the loss of childhood heroes, and the tender yet troubled journey of her son Allen, fears of late car payments and the realization that “you don’t know the man next to you.” The center of the story, of course, is the birth and raising of her gifted child, Allen, who died suddenly, leaving her with deep grief and a prayer that it will “turn its blind eyes to me with something like love, like grace.” McAllister speaks for those who lose hope but persist in spite of the fates they’ve been given. Fiercely staring the sorrows, the deaths and hopelessness down, she is relentless, and true.Before & After is a fine first book, a spirited tale that matters for those in need.

Lisa McAllister’s Before and After is a fearless palpable portrayal of motherhood—unconditional love, frustration, fear, joy, and grief; its sensory attributes as inimitable as her son, Allen.

Meet the Author

a woman in a restaurant looking at the camera

Lisa McAllister has been writing poetry and stories since she first learned how to make marks on paper with a pencil. Her debut novel Mother’s Little Helper was published in October 2023. She lives in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband Tim and their ginormously spoiled goldendoodle Donna. She is the biological mom of two, Allen and Will, and the bonus mom of about 10 more extremely talented young musicians, artists and poets.

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Norman AR 71960

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