Friday, April 6, 2012

Megan Hall, Fourth Child

Megan Hall's Fourth Child is a deeply intimate collection without being showily confessional or maudlin. And this is its great strength.

There is a quiet power to many of the poems, though few measure up to the punch carried in the second poem in the collection, "Gunshot", which actually led me to set the book down and say, out loud, "Wow... wow." The reader is led by Hall through a recapitulation of shootings from recent films into the depths of a personal tragedy which lingers, for the reader as it does for the poet, throughout the collection. That connection -- between film and life -- is stark and telling; not overdone, not overwrought.

The second to the last poem in the collection, "Wanting" -- though not without faults (there is something almost pedestrian about the sentiment closing the first stanza in this age of self-empowerment; and the closing clause leaves me either baffled or unsatisfied, I'm not yet sure which) -- offers up a real gem:
Wanting puts your heart out on a string,
trawling for the thing that's wanting you.
Those are lines that ache as much as they reveal. Which is precisely what the best of the poems in this collection manage to do.

More about Megan Hall is available on her Poetry International page, including links to additional reviews of Fourth Child; there is also a review of Fourth Child by Grace Kim on the LitNet site.

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