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Slamming Open the Door

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  199 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Of all the losses we may be asked to bear, the murder of one’s child must be the most terrible. These poems evoke that keenly, seeking justice but transcending judgment as they grieve loss, celebrate love, and find healing.
Paperback, 80 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Alice James Books
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Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The author's daughter was murdered just as she was beginning her career as a nurse. The entire very short book is a series of poems describing the death, funeral, trial, and aftermath. All the time I was reading it, I had such a confused feeling because the poetry was so beautiful, but the pain was so real, and knowing it was a true story made me feel a bit like I was exploiting this poor woman's tragedy. It is every parent's worst nightmare, and somehow, I want the poetry to exist without the d ...more
Elizabeth Scott
Apr 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I started this collection of poems after trying--and failing--to make it through another very acclaimed one. The thing about poetry, at least for me, is that a poem can be clever or beautiful or both but unless something in gets to me, I don't feel very connected to what I'm reading. (Now that I think about, the same is true for all reading though, isn't it?)

Anyway, I started Slamming Open the Door feeling a bit down on poetry and WHAM!--the first two poems were like a slap in the face.

I didn't
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009, non-fiction
After reading the first few poems in this book, I knew I would have to read them all before I would be able to set it down again. This is an amazingly, heartbreakingly honest glimpse into the pain of a mother grieving for her murdered daughter.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I picked up this book. The titles and the few lines that I read as I flipped through it caught my attention and drew me into an unforgettable experience. The author truly grabbed my heart as I lost myself in the ra
alana Semuels
Dec 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Emily for the recommendation. Listen to this first, or second:
This is a slim book of poetry written by a mother trying to grapple with the loss of her daughter. It tells a story, and for poetry, it's very accessible. It's even a little bit of true crime poetry, as her daughter was murdered. My favorite, I think, is Red Saturn. A fragment of it: "You may have seen/my big, fat tragic face/ zooming by,/ or at a stop light once./Someone should stop m
Sep 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I seldom read collections of poetry, but the author's interview with Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air" was so compelling that I just HAD to read this. It is powerful, devastating, suspenseful, and ultimately rewarding. One of the writers of a blurb on the back cover says it best: "How dies one say I love this book, which I wish never had to be written? Only one way: I love this book. I wish it did not have to be written."
I think I need to discover more poetry, where every word counts, and every i
Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Slamming Open the Door is a collection of poems written in the aftermath of the murder of the author's daughter. I found these poems powerful and moving. Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno puts into words all of the feelings she has surrounding the heartache of losing a child. I was moved by this collection. I would recommend this book to anyone.
Apr 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
You will not read another collection of poems like this one. Kathy is a fellow teacher and a dear friend. She has painstakingly and loving captured the impressions left by the loss of her daughter. Herein lies inevitably tears, unexpected laughter, true reverence for Light, and truth beyond truth.
Aug 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing exploration of using art (in this case, poetry) to deal with loss. I've read it through now twice, and it made me cry both times. Beautiful and tragic ... I would recommend this to anyone.
Sep 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
incredibly honest. uncomfortably so, and sometimes almost not poems. but closer than i've ever imagined being to a murder in 60 some pages.
Dec 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, npr
Like 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 ...more
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Raw, honest, painful, beautiful, pivotal....
Jan 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
We all judge books by there cover, even if it just a little part of the self. I chose Slamming Open the Door by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno this way, for its bright white cover, shinny in the florescence above. The slim volume bore its title in pretty red script and below there was a singular ladybug. The ladybug was enticing. It made me pick up the book and flip through it pages, they were a sturdy 30% recycled stock, crème with black type. The majority of the poems seemed short. I gave a cursory ...more
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno pulls the scabs off her wounds in this collection of poems that weaves together the narrative of her daughter, Leidy's murder.I've discovered lately that I am drawn to and enjoying poetry books where all of the poems relate to a central theme/topic/issue.

The reader learns of the panicked race to Leidy's apartment when the family can't reach her by phone, shares not only the horror of the autopsy report but the joy of Leidy's nursing school graduation party, and endures t
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book off from the poetry section at the library because 1- I already had an armful of poets I knew and loved, and wanted to try something new and 2- the cover was pretty. Right? Who doesn't like a pretty cover? The contents were not pretty at all. Bonanno's writing is vivid, honest, and raw with pain. Her poems form a response to her daughter's murder, a scenario I as a mother can't begin to imagine. Bonanno pours her grief, memory, rage, and her entire heart onto the page.
I haven
Christina Rau
Jan 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno show courage and hopefully found catharsis in writing Slamming Open The Door, which is a collection of poems about her daughter’s murder. The sequence of poems follows the sequence of finding out horrible news through trials of legal and emotional matter. Unfortunately, some poems feel like repetition, an excess that might have been written from rage or sadness but was never meant for others; those poems lack the concise, clean lines and images of the others, and there a ...more
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book after hearing the author's interview on Fresh Air ( The interview was one of the few times that I have ever heard Terry Gross get audibly emotional. The poetry was haunting, poignant and beautiful. I can't even begin to fathom the pain that she went through, but this book is about as close as one who has never been through the experience can get. It has stuck with me years later.
Andrea Lorenz
Jan 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno captures in verse the experience of living through the aftermath of her daughter's murder. The poems are short - very short, but they convey some pretty tough, honest feelings. I'm not sure that Bonanno always transcends the cliche of the victim's mother, but she tries. Honestly, the victim's mother cliche probably isn't a cliche, but a reality that mothers face when their children are brutally taken away from them.
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A difficult book to read but a worthy book. I heard the author on NPR and I was compelled to go get the book immediately. The opening poem sucked me in, as someone who has experienced the sudden horrific grief that come from losing a loved one violently and as a writer I knew EXACTLY what she meant by death ordering her "from now on you write about me." I don't ever read books of poetry but this nonfiction poetry floored me, completely accessible and heart wrenching. Read it.
May 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
The first 1/3rd of this book was gripping -- I started tearing up describing the poems to another person. But I eventually felt like it fell flat and wasn't quite as 3 dimensional as it could have been. The stories and emotions ultimately were what I would expect, there wasn't alot of surprise. The poems relied too much on the tension of the events being described, rather than enhancing that tension or layering other emotions through the artistry of the poems.
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A rather haunting book about the unexpected loss of a loved one. If you have lost anyone close, you will recognize the pain, hurt, anger and drive to survive through all of it.
Her poem 'What People Give You' brought up memories of when my brother died. I didn't want people to say, "I'm sorry for your loss." I wanted my brother back.
And 'Death Barged In' That character has been around me for a long time -how do you get the bastard to leave?
Nov 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This is a small volume of poetry that tells the story of the murder of the author's daughter. The poems are incredible! I read the entire book one night just so I'd know if they caught the killer. Now I'm re-reading it more slowly to savor the depth of the poetry itself. The author did a reading recently for NPR, so it might be worth trying to podcast if you prefer poetry that way :-)
Nov 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a short book of poetry written by a mother about her daughters murder. I listened to the story on NPR and just had to read this book. I'm typically not a fan of poetry (because I end up confused, mostly) but these poems were accessible, and beautiful, and I could just feel her pain (even though I'm sure I couldn't).
Thing Two
Jun 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Thing Two by: Book Club
A frighteningly realistic poetry collection chronicling the steps after the author's daughter was murdered - from discovery to conviction. As one reviewer wrote: "How does one say I love this book, which I wish never had to be written? Only one way: I love this book. I wish it did not have to be written."
Oct 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read for anybody, really. Certainly any parent should read it. This book of poems grips you from the beginning and doesn't let go. I don't want to spoil anything so I won't say more, except have a tissue ready.
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grief, own
This is an extraordinary series of poems in which the poet tells the story of her daughter's murder. I thought they were extraordinary, but can so sadly identify. I'd be curious to know how they are for others.
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a book of moments: when two poems in, you fight back tears; when "What People Give You" makes the covers meet; when "Homicide Detective" reveals truth every mystery novel ignores; when "Birthday Poem" burns your fingertips. This is a book I can never show my mother.
Aug 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
It's poetry; you're not ever through reading it.

I learned of this book through the author's interview on "Fresh Air." The story is heartbreaking and gripping, but I came to the end of the book with the feeling of something more than that. Transcendent.
Oct 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Though extremely difficult (emotionally) to read, this collection of poetry written by the mother of a murder victim is powerful and important. Bonanno's pain, suffering, and love come through the verses quite clearly. Read it, but be prepared to suffer along with her...
Sep 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
A crushing, devastating, rage-filled, conversational, broken tome. As Thomas Lux says in his blurb on the back of the book: "How does one say I love this book, which I wish never had to be written? Only one way: I love this book. I wish it did not have to be written."
Cathryn Cofell
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book of poetry. After the first poem, I was hooked, couldn't it put it down. What an incredibly tragic, incredibly written story, told through poems, of murder and devastation and rage and love and unending sadness. You'll want to hug your kid, any kid, and not let go.
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“Try to be thoughtful,
don't make the poor man say it;
see how human he is,
he has children of his own,
it is your job to ask:
Is she dead?

And he will nod and say yes
And now he can never not nod.
And now he can never say no.
And now he can never not say
“And when I stand
in the receiving line
like Jackie Kennedy
without the pillbox hat,
if Jackie were fat
and had taken enough Klonopin
to still an ox,

and you whisper
I think of you
every day,

don't finish with
because I've been going
to Weight Watchers
on Tuesdays and wonder
if you want to go too.
More quotes…