Nancy Wright's Reviews > Everyone Lives Here

Everyone Lives Here by Sharon Webster
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Sep 27, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: to-read


Sharon Webster divides her fabulous collection of poems and artwork into four seasons, beginning with spring, where “Fragile/elbows of light” awaken the sleeper and make her, like Mary Poppins, “fall gently out and/down, but also up.” We breathe in the grass, and the “wild/huge earth” with its “white teeth/pulling”—and discover that “step after step/is everyone’s name.” Like Whitman in Leaves of Grass, Webster does, indeed, celebrate everything and everyone. In “Temple Grandin,” we meet the autistic activist, who “senses what is/invisible to others,” and in “Weeping in the Kmart, Premenstrual,” (I love these offbeat titles!), we encounter the poet’s Alzheimer-Down Syndrome companion, Jackie, a “wet/berry of pain, a hanged human voice…I imagine air and pull her up.” In “Almost Thanksgiving, Unsteady,” the developmentally-challenged Thelma “takes a broom from every neighbor on Buell Street” (but “always brings them back”), and vigorously sweeps the pavement: “Swoosh. Swoosh.” In “The Cleaning Lady,” a resentful worker who “imagines her eyes/becoming rags” still manages to find “some beauty/ beneath the dirt.” And in “Yes,” the speaker admits her “special outlook on life./ It comes from the dirt.”
There are autobiographical poems, too, like the art teacher who teaches “the freedom to be imperfect.” After her hysterectomy the poet promises “to do good things/forever if I ever get better” and allows herself to “cry.” She visits the gym where sweat is “held/in high esteem”; she loves “the democracy/of a locker room” where “what was sunken is indeed/ample and dusky, and naked/with other women on the warm cedar planks.” In “The Music of Their Names,” she takes on the ignored women artists of the Renaissance and pledges to “think of what was forgotten. / Think of how to find it again.”
Like her vibrant artwork (a Remington typewriter, for instance, spews out a mass of fragmented pages on its top), Webster’s poems, with their whimsical line breaks, are a virtual painting on the page. The reader will find a surprise in every line, a fresh, sensuous way of seeing and knowing. S/he will want to read the collection over and over again, and meet, hug and weep over Everyone Who Lives Here.
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Reading Progress

September 27, 2014 – Shelved
September 27, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read

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