cover image Wife


Tiphanie Yanique. Peepal Tree (IPG, dist.), $17.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-84523-294-8

Fiction writer Yanique (Land of Love and Drowning) makes her poetic debut with a collection that shatters the romanticized image of marriage. She delves into how the institution reinvents women in ways that they are unwilling to change, or in ways they never expected. As Yanique progresses through the collection, she reveals how marriage acts as a kind of rending of the woman as well as a transformation that can be binding as both a limitation and a comfort. Her prose poem "Dictionary," one of the collection's more captivating entries, details several definitions of the word "wife" as it explicates the ways in which women are perceived as property. Demonstrating a close embrace of craft, Yanique displays an economy of line and employs a variety of forms, including zuihitsu (popularized by Kimiko Hahn and Cheryl Boyce-Taylor) and an epistolary poem to Jean-Michel Basquiat. She succeeds in imagining how the title and role of wife encompass many confining and joyful moments in an often cyclical fashion, but she does not glamorize the drudgery, even in her elegant phrasing. Yanique's poems unfold in an alluring address of mythology, interracial relationships, and a wife's role across the black diaspora. (Dec.)