Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Book Review: 'Common Ancestor' by Jenny Irish
Arizona poet Jenny Irish serves as the Assistant Director of the Creative Program at Arizona State University. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Blackbird, Catapult, Colorado Review, Epoch, and The Georgia Review. This is her first published collection of her prose poetry despite the fact that her writing seems extraordinarily accomplished for a debut anthology.
Jenny somehow gauges out the pain and the profound feelings that we all encounter but lack the ability to express appropriately. Those world views come at us like arrows and pierce our psyches, demanding to be noticed. Her language is raw, sensitive, terse and poignant. Reading jenny’s poems changes us – though that does not seem to be the goal of the poet. She is more concerned that we recognize the at times sordid human condition for what it is rather that what we wish to or prefer to acknowledge or ignore.
The Twins Sort Grandma Sawyer’s Things
When our estrangement ends,
by way of her death,
a sure determination
of who mother loved the best:
go through her underwear drawer
to see how many envelopes
of whose baby hair she kept.
Missing Teas Two Steppers are in Pieces in a Body Pit
Our hair in curls unfurls like ferns with a ram’s horn curve. Hopeless, the
helpless heap of meekness mild: us girls, forever child, the lamb with the
lion laid and brightly bruised, taken apart, disassembled as a gory muse,
purple, flower throated, how we bloomed, pansy faced little spread of
petals, blood flowing like a painted pug – there are mothers who teach
their daughters submission in the purest kind of love. Our hearts’
memories, they often go giddy-up and go. Our flowers, they soured, having
grown tall and red, with the first frost tightened into fists, and with the
thaw, left dead.
The poems are in two parts – Part I: Wreckage and Part II: Yehaw Chainsaw. We eagerly await more from this artist. Grady Harp, May 17
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