Cass Moriarty's Reviews > Amnesia Findings

Amnesia Findings by Anna Jacobson
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it was amazing

The winner of the 2018 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize was Anna Jacobson with her collection Amnesia Findings (UQP 2019). This slim book – complete with the author’s hand-drawn line sketches – centres on mental illness, health and recovery, Jewish traditions, family and food. Jacobson lifts topics as everyday as tea and ovens (and food, always food) and imbues them with an energy and brightness that is transformative and insightful. So many of the objects or topics in these poems were achingly familiar.
Many of the poems revolve around Jacobson’s struggles with mental illness, the symptoms and difficulties associated, the various treatments and her road to wellness. The sum of the individual poems as a whole provides a unique perspective on a dark time in her life, full of doubts and insecurities. The small daily pleasures of food and flowers, companionship and clothing, photographs and memories are amplified because of the darkness that preceded the normality.
Until I Am Home is an evocative poem about Guatemalan worry dolls. The sense of hoarding or of being unable to let things go is implied so tenderly in How To Grow Nightshades With Teapots, in Butter-snap Letters, in Things I Find When Tidying My Room, and in Why Can’t We Just Keep Everything? I love the simplicity of Toolbox, and On Madness; the beauty of Notes I Didn’t Give To The Western Wall. I love the sensory explosion of Separation Ceremony; the familiar hospital fears of How To Knit A Human; the childlike humour of Danish Pastry Passport. There are so many great poems in this collection, and some will appeal more than others. I think my favourite is Button Collection, perhaps because it so closely aligns with my own memories of discovering ‘… etched enamel treasure from a box …’ at my grandparents’ house. This anthology is a tribute to the poet’s parents and her brother, to her grandparents, and to the traditions and customs that have shaped her life. The final poem, Heal, perhaps sums up the collection – and the author – best:
‘she distils healing
from poems, brews songs
in rivers’
A truly beautiful suite of reflective poems that manages to remain accessible, comprehensible and relatable.
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Reading Progress

February 16, 2020 – Shelved
Started Reading
February 17, 2020 – Finished Reading

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