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THIS WEEK IN BOOKS: THE LIGHT ON THE WALL

A review of Jen Ashburn's poetry collection from The Rumpus.

http://therumpus.net/2017/01/this-week-in-books-the-light-on-the-wall/


This week, we’ll look atThe Light on the Wall(Main Street Rag, January 2017) by poet Jen Ashburn. This collection, her first, opens and closes with poems about her schizophrenic mother and dysfunctional family, a frame around the author’s life and travels. In the titular poem, Ashburn uses description (“the evening light soaked everything/in the color of plums—not the skin of plums, or the flesh,/but that deep orange-red that bleeds in between”) to build tension until she arrives at the moment of describing her mother tucking her sheets in around her, restraining her. The poem ends simply, in the same way earthquake mechanics are simple, but devastating: “My mother/was breaking. Even the light on the wall knew.” The poems that follow offer similar earthquake-like simplicity, whether about family or the time she spent traveling in Asia. She explores the di…