Near the middle of the book, Smith concludes her elimination experiment. Changing her habits has helped her regain her equilibrium, but the shift is not as drastic as she envisioned. Life looks the same as it did pre-pandemic but clearly something in her inner experience has changed.
All in all, these poems are sensitive, moving, perceptive, and carefully crafted gems. Discouragement might lurk in the words, yet the balance is tilting toward hope. As expressed in the poem “A Close and Constant Rage,” the poet notes “my continuous rage colliding / with the natural world, … / surround me with a can-do moment of hope.”
Whitacre makes it clear from the start that this is family folklore handed down over generations at Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas celebrations and other family gatherings. Indeed, the second poem, “Jennie at Thanksgiving,” introduces us to the central figure, now a toothless old lady who is hard of hearing, her food “ground to mush” so that she’s able to eat. “She gums away fitfully.”
This book will be of interest perhaps most to Franklin fans who will appreciate the spotlight shifting from him to the multiple women who play secondary characters in his biographies. It must be noted that Stuart does more than simply tell the stories of these players that usually otherwise merely populate the background of the US colonial and revolutionary drama; she offers several insightful and challenging reappraisals.
Ottaway explores the way that women are often taught to mask emotions which can make diagnosis difficult. The book is also deeply personal, putting the reader directly into the experience and incorporating a welter of complex emotions, sensations, and perspectives that are powerful. Poetry is the right medium, embracing the complexity through rhythm, structure, imagery, and an engagement in the senses that creates immediacy.
O’Hagan manages a delicate balance between immediacy and nostalgia with a light hand that feels natural, inviting the reader into the moment to share in the meaning making. There are layers of desire pervading the work, time and space condensing, folding into itself in sudden revelations that come into a quiet scene with the force of empathy
Moss’ words are eloquent and have a deep ring of truth. I love how he utilises sophisticated words mixed with slang. Several of the poems engage with the suffering of First Nations people including the welfare abuse of children who were taken away from their families. Moss pulls no punches, and his words are hard-hitting and powerful.
Cameron is very creative and is able to reveal a lot in the different ways she writes and sets the poems. For example in one poem she utilises pieces of dialogues which are obviously spoken at the time of the diagnosis. In this section there is also a very poignant poem titled “A Letter to my Body”. We sometimes see our body as a different entity and we question ‘it’,or get angry with ‘it’ thinking or saying “how can you do this to me?”.
Rediker is a professor, activist, and historian of the Atlantic slave trade. Writing in a contemporary and progressive way, he reveals this man’s courageous cry against the unfairness, brutal cruelty, and inexcusable ambivalence toward slave labor in all its forms. Lay is presented as an exemplar, and the author tells us how he was determined to devote “a study all its own” to Lay after discovering him in previous research.
Still hammering away at the keyboard at age 74, T.C. Boyle still maintains his place as America’s grand poobah of literary fiction, particularly displaying his mastery in the short story genre; and this most recent collection of 13 tightly crafted slices of life intermixed with occasional forays into his beloved magical realism prove that he is still at the top of his game.