What I admire about this collection: I really admire the way that way The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison works as a collection of poems. I like the way Maggie uses apologues throughout the book to tie poems and ideas together. I wasn’t familiar with the term “apologue” before reading this book, so it was fascinating to learn about them while reading these beautiful poems.
I also really respond to the content of this collection. I love folk tales and fairy tales and I use them a lot in my intro creative writing class as prompts. Often I ask my students to reimagine a fairy tale; to make it their own or to reveal a new angle on a story that an audience might already have read. I like how the poems in The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison feel fresh and new but also personal. There’s a careful, thoughtful poignancy in many of these poems. Each time you read one of these poems, something new pops up. It’s a brilliant read.
Favorite lines: “It is blacker there than in the gut. From far off, her life/rings like a thrown voice. Let it not be a fable for others” (3). “It’s an installation: Wrens pinned like brooches/to the trees, singing, their eyes like glass beads” (5). “Listen/as bird songs repeat, records skipping:/ Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. Each persistent melody chips away at the air, shaving/the sky into tissue-thin curls that float/down like leaves” (9). “Ultimately, all revisions of her life collapse into one…” (28). “Swans floated like votives” and ” feathers like wicks” (30).
Favorite poems: “The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison,” “Last Night on Earth,” “First Son,” “The Shepherd’s Horn” & “Ohio.”
Links: While reading A Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, I was reminded of other poems about folk/fairy tales that I’ve used in my classes before. Two that came to mind were “Gretel in Darkness” by Louise Gluck and “Cinderella” by Anne Sexton.
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