Thursday, August 19, 2021


Another wonderful book by Molly Spencer, Hinge (Southern Illinois University Press, 2020). Its eerie cover is a doorknob in the shape of a human hand. When I woke this morning at 3:33, something I do, I came down to read the rest of it, begun yesterday, falling asleep again with this hand at my breast. A bad dream woke me, seeming in keeping with the darker themes of the book, the Grimm fairy tales woven in, the myth of Persephone and Demeter, the body wracked by lupus, the cold houses, one full of moths...

Reading If the house and Hinge together in August was good. It reminded me of Molly Spencer's big year of awards: 2019--with the Brittingham Prize for If the House and the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award for Hinge, written first, published second, after 100 rejections, which should inspire us all!

And, of course, I found August: "The slow ambush / of August / heat..." on p. 31. Late in the book, the gorgeous "Elegy" has August in it, the speaker addressing her former self:

                           Girl I was,

     you keep asking the way
     fledglings beg at an empty nest. Go back

     to your shirtless, half-boy, August afternoons.
     Go to your footpath, your hill of shade.

I'm glad of the helpful notes at the end (as I always am, when poets provide them!), with sources for epigraphs and imbedded lines, erasure, overall intertextuality that engages me in other poets' work as well as these poems, a great reminder of community and, perhaps, especially given the myths and tales, the collective unconscious. And/or maybe I'm just validating my dream on the couch...

I was struck by "Most Accidents Occur at Home," its Adam-and-Eve, Cain-and-Abel resonance in contemporary domesticity. "Nobody tells you this: / Every day is a creation story." And how "Girl with Book and Angel" is a kind of annunciation story. Then "Girl with House and Lost Boys" brings us Peter Pan, Neverland. Childhood, darkened by later experience, rolls over these poems until the light breaks in, and luck, and resilience.

Also, though I am immersed just in the reading now, and in things going on in my own family life, these are the poems that make me want to write again. Thank you, Molly Spencer, for these books and your little-room-for-poetry-and-the-writing-life blog, the stanza, of the past.

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