Poetry Mixtape 45: You Can(‘t) Go Home Again

There are so many journals to read online that it can sometimes boggle the mind. But there are a few that I make sure to consistently read. Superstition Review is one of those, and the current issue doesn’t disappoint. My favorite poems in the issue are by Erin Elizabeth Smith, but I’d particularly like to talk about “Four Photographs of House with Mother.” Please read it here.

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The poem moves beautifully through stages, using the speaker’s house as a central focus with the mother as a recurring figure. I love that the images are so strong (the one-winged cowbird, the pat-of-butter house, the lightning-carved tree), and  I am particularly enamored with the line breaks in Erin’s poem.  If we look at the first stanza, and just read through the last words, we get:

shaving

chair

off

parmesan

teaching

smooth

palm

dresser

color

quick

canary

childhood

knobs

beginning

elbows

against

frame

Reading the last words creates a feeling of the sensual contradictions of adolescence – the physical words (shaving, palm, smooth, elbows), the words that can be read as physical (knobs, frame, smooth, against) and the pieces of the home (dresser, chair, color) all used in a stanza about a shared removal of childhood for something newer, the hard work of change. By the time we get to the end of the poem, the end-words have cycled back to “children” and “can”, re-opening the possibility of beginnings.

If you want to write:

Use your childhood home as the central focus of a poem written in parts. Feature the home in a different way in each section.

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4 thoughts on “Poetry Mixtape 45: You Can(‘t) Go Home Again

  1. Pingback: Friday Freeforall: Are We There Yet? « Margo Roby: Wordgathering

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