Like a lot of people, I heard about this poetry collection from hearing the author on Fresh Air. Pennsylvania writer and teacher Kathleen Sheeder BonaLike a lot of people, I heard about this poetry collection from hearing the author on Fresh Air. Pennsylvania writer and teacher Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno was inspired, maybe driven, to write it after her daughter Leidy's murder in 2003 by an ex-boyfriend (press articles tell me he is in prison for life.) They are gathered in roughly chronological order. They are also pretty devastating, but they are beautiful and surprisingly funny in places as well. Bonanno can take a simple act like observing an ant and turn it into a small tragedy, or find humor in having emergency surgery shortly after her daughter's death.
The volume is pretty slender, and her writing is sparse and clear. You can read the whole thing in the time it would take to wend your way through five Wallace Stevens' poems. The collection reminds me somewhat of Matt Rasmussen's Black Aperture, another fantastic poetry collection (and a National Book Award poetry finalist in 2013) about the death of a family member, although that one dealt with suicide.
Because the poet speaks better than I can, here is a fragment of the opening poem that gives the collection its title:
Death Barged In In his Russian great coat, slamming open the door with an unpardonable bang, and he has been here ever since.
He changes everything, rearranges the furniture, his hand hovers by the phone; he will answer now, he says; he will be the answer
Nothing much else to say, except this collection is fantastic. ...more