Donna Marie's Peace & Poetry

discover your poetic possibilities

Wife of the House

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Wife of the House by Gudrun Mouw is about the writer’s journey into, through, and out of a troubled marriage. While Mouw creates many beautiful, bittersweet images, some of the poems were too abstract for my taste. I think, too, that she restricts herself by sticking to certain formulas that work in some poems, but not in others. For instance, with few exceptions, each stanza begins with a capital letter and all the lines that follow begin with lowercase, which can lead to confusion in the reading of a poem. There is no punctuation in any of the poems—again, works for some, but it holds her back to adhere to her self-made rule in every poem. She also repeats words (feeling dry dry dry…The creature is thirsty thirsty…stay calm stay calm…buy buy another cat…). While not overdone, I think techniques like this should be used a bit more sparingly within a single collection. (And, on a graphic design note, I would have liked to have seen the titles stand out from the text—perhaps in bold or larger or using the same font as the title on the cover.)

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That being said, there are many poems that make Mouw’s first collection worth reading. This is a woman searching for meaning in her marriage, motherhood, and in herself as “Through a closed window / she walks outside herself.” When “She dips her feet / into the hot tub…Her husband leans back / against the railing / and declines / to get wet.” Simple images such as these show the internal and external struggles she faces. Who is she really “in a narrow space / children asleep / husband working late”? And what mother, despite loving our children fiercely and unconditionally hasn’t—during the busyness that crowds our lives—had this thought: “Children at school / the youngest takes / her brief morning nap / I crave more time…”

Mouw’s wanderings and wonderings are perhaps best summed up in an excerpt from “The House Hunter”:

she wants a sensitive house
a gentle house
quiet in the forest
a home where she can open
the door hit bull’s eye
and find what’s missing

In the end, I think she finds it. Wife of the House (© 2014) is available from Raincloud Press.

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This entry was posted on January 17, 2015 by in Reviews and tagged , , .
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