What the Body Remembers

Adele Slaughter, Author, Adc(le Slaughter, Author
Adele Slaughter, Author, Adc(le Slaughter, Author Story Line Press $11.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-934257-99-2
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``I am still/ traveling toward home.'' The subject matter of Slaughter's autobiographical first collection-an abusive, unhappy childhood lorded over by a drunken martinet of a father-brings forth self-pity in the poet that can work against our natural inclination to sympathize with anyone who has suffered. Her narrative bent in free verse draws a reader in with story, but an overworked stock of imagery frequently deters or obstructs. Slaughter shows her influences candidly-they include Williams, Plath and Sexton-and crafts arresting lines (``The moon spreads my shadow on animal-wet straw''). Yet too often the writing is either bland or inflated, leaning on familiar tropes, figures and usages (``Sweat breaks out, jaw clenched'') or veering toward melodrama (``All the while your moaning eyes stare at me''). Slaughter chooses to repeat some unfortunate trite phrases, as if to gain a momentum that never materializes: in one poem, a father ``inhales several thick martinis'' while in another he ``breathes in a gin martini.'' In ``Dead Women Poets'' the weaknesses are emblematic: language evokes cliches of injury, suicide and survival, undermining Slaughter's main theme, female heroism. (Oct.)
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