Do­mes­tica

Chap­book, Sarah Swan, 24 pgs, above/ground press, above­ground­press.blogspot.com, $4

Broken Pencil - - Zine Reviews -

Do­mes­tica is a ti­tle that man­ages to con­jure el­e­gance and te­dium at the same time, and that di­chotomy is mir­rored in Sarah Swan’s verse. In sub­se­quent breaths, she com­pares her chil­dren’s “clear and clean” faces to ice­bergs in a Lawren Har­ris painting, then finds her­self swept up by a wave of monotony as she pulls them down the side­walk in a wagon, “grey square af­ter grey square / af­ter / solemn / grey / square.”

This col­lec­tion is only half home­body musings; the riski­est — and most re­ward­ing — sec­tion of Do­mes­tica is a num­bered se­ries of po­ems, all ti­tled “Child­hood.” Each does lit­tle more than list items, scenes or events that are pre­sum­ably all from Swan’s youth. It’s a recipe for idio­syn­crasy, but that line is never crossed; Swan’s choices for the lists con­sis­tently breed fa­mil­iar­ity, at least for this reader: “The squat green / rotary tele­phone. // Por­ridge and / mo­lasses. // Burrs / stuck / on my / sweater.”

If you’re look­ing for un­com­pli­cated, mater-of-fact po­etry, this one’s a safe bet. There’s noth­ing veiled, here — what you see is what you get — but Swan doesn’t sacri­fice sub­tlety or nu­ance. (Scott Bryson)

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