The Forbidden Poems

Becky Birtha, Author Seal Press (CA) $10.95 (155p) ISBN 978-1-878067-01-2
The poems in this first collection show off Birtha's considerable ability to endow ordinary perceptions and occurrences with a profound significance. Many poems take as their subject the painful breakup of a 10-year relationship with her lover. While the insights into this failed union are not very satisfying, the peripheral details of daily life are sharply etched. For instance, the house where the two women live is divided; the kitchen is neutral territory: ``Sometimes we can both be here together / with the lamp in the window lighted / with supper in the oven.'' On a trip to the Pacific Northwest, the poet leads a group into a clearing to look at the stars: ``And someone asks /me if I have a lover in that city / I left at the other end of the continent. / I know the answer now.'' In other poems Birtha depicts a lesbian community that is stable, loving and creative--and whose members can all make a great cup of tea: ``even a hardcore stomping deisel dyke / can't ruin a pot of boiling water.'' Although the poet's focus is sometimes clouded by smarminess, her language is always clear, simple and rewardingly to the point. Birtha wrote the short-story collection Lovers' Choice . (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
Genre: Fiction
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