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8. Our Andromeda, Brenda Shaughnessy (2012)


I already gushed about Brenda Shaughnessy last week, and here I am again to tell you she's an incredible poet, sometimes funny with her wordplay and then just as suddenly she'll gut you with something. Last week I quoted a good bit of her Liquid Flesh, which really spoke to me about the kind of agony of depletion and confusion with a newborn, tiny self alone with a tiny self. The reviewers are right, there is also a lot of good stuff in here about sisters, lovers gone, her family, but the strongest section to me was the last section, eponymously titled with its final and longest poem that is also the name of the book, Our Andromeda (something about this name within name with name was deeply satisfying in the same way her poetry was). The whole section is about her son, Calvin, from different angles, all about his existence, his traumatic brain injury (a midwife birth in a hospital) that rendered him unable to walk or speak, his early life, and her imagining of alternate worlds for him and for herself as a mother. (You can read a few more details about it in this excellent interview with her and her husband, the poet Craig Morgan Teicher.) In Our Andromeda (the poem itself) she eviscerates herself for naivete, her friends and family for being distant, god for being evil, probability for being cruel, but there's so much more in this poem that I loved, it's not all bitterness, there is excruciating love, too. One of my favorite lines: The truth is you are the truth, / a child born to a liar who is learning / to change. Or how about the long list of what exactly would I be blaming God for, which inserts among mundane administrative missteps the line Setting things in motion so that / this poem would be written? There's a lot more in this collection than just motherhood, that's just the bit that speaks the most to me right now, of course. Highly recommended.

Date: 2013-02-21 11:10 pm (UTC)
ext_39437: Brown rabbit (maryjanes)
From: [identity profile] triesticity.livejournal.com
I wonder if I would like this - I read Interior with Sudden Joy in 2009 and had a hard time with it (I liked some of the wordplay but felt like much of the book was vague and ungraspable). Have you read anything else by her?

Date: 2013-02-21 11:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aslant.livejournal.com
I have not read her earlier work, no. Interesting that you say vague and ungraspable -- it was precisely the graspability of her language that I liked in this collection. With a few exceptions, there is a lot of sense within the lines. Our Andromeda itself is almost unbearably clear, as is that whole section. But maybe she's changed a lot?

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