Her Soul Beneath the Bone: Women's Poetry on Breast Cancer

Leatrice Lifshitz, Editor, Leatrice H. Lifshitz, Other University of Illinois Press $25 (104p) ISBN 978-0-252-01518-2
Breast cancer is confronted here with perfect sensitivity and candor in poems that are serious but not sentimental or self-pitying. The metaphor present in each poem, almost without exception, is the woman's breasts as a vital part of her identity: when these are changed or removed during surgery, feelings of emotional and physical mutilation surface. A woman's impression of her bodily and sexual self, her femininity, is inevitably, even irrevocably altered; her role as nourishing mother denied. Strong and unwavering voices evoke starkly vivid, often haunting, images: ``I am lopsided / flatter than a boy. / S-shaped stitches / frame washboard ribs. / Why should I remember / after seven years / the way a hand / curved my breast? / Old griefs sift through / this excavation,'' writes Alice J. Davis in ``After Surgery.'' Because of the limitations of the subject matter, repetition is unavoidable, but editor Lifshitz alternates poem lengths and keeps the book brief. Almost all the verses are written in direct and prose-like stylethis creates a singular tone and lends the collection richness and resilience. And though terrible grief and loss emerge in these pages, so do humor and hope. (September)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Paperback - 104 pages - 978-0-252-06008-3
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