Tuesday, March 12, 2013

DOLLHOUSE, Poems by Elaine Terranova

Review of DOLLHOUSE, Poems by Elaine Terranova, winner of the 2012 award from the Off The Grid Press manuscript contest, Off the Grid Press, 24 Quincy Street, Somerville, MA 02143, www.offthegridpress.net, copyright 2013, $15.

Note: Cover photo “Kitchen of tenant purchase client, Hidalgo County Texas” by Russell Lee (1903-1986), Library of Congress.

Review by Barbara Bialick

 Dollhouse is a collection of poems that are built around a conceit of a dollhouse from sometime between the 1930s and 1950s as the excellent glossy black and white cover photo indicates. Off the Grid Press only publishes works by authors of age 60 and older, but someone of any age could appreciate the theme of the doll house family reflecting on the life of the poet from childhood to adulthood.

In “The Importance of the Dollhouse,” Terranova writes: “It is the only safe place for them/…I may see myself passing through/the little house, the clay house of myself/walking quickly past the windows.”

In contrast, she writes in “Excluded”, “Because she sat on the doorstep/and her mother wasn’t there./No One was there. The key/on a string around her neck, tied to her, key to a whole world gone. An uninhabited/interior…”

While, on the other hand, in “Girl: Bicameral” she points out “Everything/in the dollhouse, (is) in perfect balance…”

The dollhouse is a symbol of every facet of the author’s life, even the spiritual—a missionary in a park gave her a card with a picture of The Virgin Mary: “The Virgin Mary sits, prayers in hand/…the Holy Spirit can come in…”

Finally, in the book’s Section III, the last section, she writes of herself as an adult,

still transfixed by dolls, dollmaking and collectibles. In the poem, “Collector”, she writes “A doll is an object, a trinket, a token./Yet the dolls are not collected/in a glass case, which would remove them/from their main function, life./Instead, they inhabit a dollhouse/based on our memory/of the real. In them we recover our history…”

ElaineTerranova is the author of five books of poems and two chapbooks. Her translation of Euripides’ “Iphigenia” is part of the Penn Greek Drama Series. Her awards besides the one for this book include, the Walt Whitman Award, an NEA, a Pew Fellowship and a Pushcart Prize.

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