Monday, December 19, 2011

Review: Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood

Book Details:
Morning in the Burned House
By Margaret Atwood
Genre: Poetry
Published 1995, McClelland & Stewart Inc.
Hardback, 127 pages
ISBN: 0771008309

         These beautifully crafted poems - by turns dark, playful, intensely moving, tender, and intimate - make up Margaret Atwood's most accomplished and versatile gathering to date, " setting foot on the middle ground / between body and word." Some draw on history, some on myth, both classical and popular. Others, more personal, concern themselves with love, with the fragility of the natural world, and with death, especially in the elegiac series of meditations on the death of a parent. But they also inhabit a contemporary landscape haunted by images of the past. Generous, searing, compassionate, and disturbing, this poetry rises out of human experience to seek a level between luminous memory and the realities of the everyday, between the capacity to inflict and the strength to forgive.
Though I really cannot remember the last time I read a book of poetry, when I spotted this library discard by the well-respected Canadian author, Margaret Atwood, I could not resist. I was hooked with the first poem, as I felt that these words could have echoed from my own thoughts -- a feeling that continued with many more poems in this book. I also loved that she did not feel the need to make her poems rhyme or follow any specific rhythm. I believe the technical term is free verse. At any rate, it was much more freeing to read than the typical poetry I remember from my school days. I find myself also growing in respect for the author, as I think it is rather courageous to publish a book of poetry, even for an established author like Margaret Atwood. Poetry somehow feels more raw and closer to the heart of the author than a lengthy work of fiction. Though I have jotted down bits of poetry in private moments, I would not dare share most of it with anyone. Some of my favorites are "A Sad Child", "Red Fox",  and "Helen of Try Does Counter Dancing", but I found something to like in every poem. I highly recommend this very enjoyable read, even if poetry is not your cup of tea.

The Cover: The imagery and metaphor that the cover picture evokes is a good representation of the feeling that many of Margaret Atwood's poems elicit in the reader -- that of a caged wildness seeking freedom.

First Line: "You come back into the room/ where you've been living/ all along."
Admittedly, I can't really judge a book of poetry by the first line, but this first poem, "You Come Back," was both mysterious and relate-able, enticing me to read more.

Favorite Quote: "Why encourage the notion/ of virtuous poverty?/ It's only an excuse/ for zero charity."

Read For: Outdo Yourself Challenge, I Want More Challenge


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