Donna Marie's Peace & Poetry

discover your poetic possibilities

Wife of the House


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.)


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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