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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

Review: Mother-Ghosts

Mother-Ghosts - Leah Sewell

Leah Sewell's Mother-Ghosts is a superbly crafted collection with emotional intensity. Each poem builds on an interconnected duality, two opposing thoughts bridged by a thread (perhaps a beam). These are poems about the lives we lead—the daily sights and sounds, the roles we play and are sometimes excluded from. They're full of heart and unease.

Throughout this collection, Sewell captures the world in such vivid detail. She alternates effectively between the concrete and the abstract, never getting lost in one or the other. Personally, these are my favorite kind of poets, those who are intelligent, insightful, and witty with their words, but who use those words largely as a way to add tone to the world we inhabit, those who add perspective to our seemingly one-dimensional relationships.

In “I Have Decided,” the poet discusses the uses of her two hands. One holds her children. She holds it high, lifting them above the crowds, giving them breadth to grow into the space. The other hand serves many purposes: clearing the path, providing relief to her sweat-drenched brow, welcoming the hand of another. As I turned the final page in this book, I imagined that each poem in this collection could easily fit in one hand or another, separated by outstretched arms, bridged only by the poet. This is what I mean by an interconnected duality. I see it throughout this collection: two hands, feverishly trying to out write the other, one mind behind them both, perhaps hoping that slyly she can eventually bring those hands together without anyone noticing. I may be way off, but that's the image that stuck with me after I finished Mother-Ghosts and I rather like it.