All That Held Us (Paperback)


By Henrietta Goodman

BkMk Press of the University of Missouri-Kans, 9781943491124, 67pp.

Publication Date: April 2, 2018

List Price: 13.95*
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In this collection of linked sonnets, a young woman wrestles with the expectations of her repressive upbringing and Southern culture. Raised by a jaded and critical mother and eccentric aunt, and haunted by an absent father, she constructs the myths and truths of home, family, and marital love that confine and release her as she navigates her own sexuality and capacity for intimacy. All That Held Us is the seventeenth winner of the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry, selected by Kate Daniels. Karen Craigo, author of Pasing Through Humansville and No More Milk, writes in her advance praise of the book, ''All That Held Us is a collection that unfolds breathlessly, one untitled domino upsetting the next, and the next, while the reader stands entranced by the kinetic energy of the topple. These personal and family stories are arrayed like oddments in glass-covered Cornell boxes, with variations of the same item--figs, dogs, wedding rings--meticulously positioned in side-by-side compartments. The Italian sonnets--fresh but true to form--provide the frame for poems that, over and over again, 'spring the traps / to find out whether words would be enough.'' They are, and they aren't: I'm enchanted by these poems. I want more.'' Michael Earl Craig, author of Talkativeness and Thin Kimono, writes, ''A biting exploration of family and coming of age. The dad is gone but not exactly. The mom and 'crazy aunt' form a fascinating (and at times humorous) duo. The cast is small and tight. As Goodman circles round and round her subjects it all becomes more complicated. Each sonnet here finds the author leaning carefully in over the microscope, one eye closed, remembering and re-remembering (and probably re-re-remembering) and recording it all with brilliant Petrarchan snap. What starts out as sifting through ashes ends up a tale of Phoenix rising.''