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Topic: Heather Simeney MacLeod

Heather Simeney MacLeod on Karen Connelly's "How Clean You Have Become"

(How Poems Work, August 2005)
Karen Connelly’s “How Clean You Have Become” is a poem of the experience that follows mourning. It illustrates the loss which occurs after grieving has passed, as our memories diffuse, slip away from us. It speaks of what we are left with in the wake of not only the loss of the person but also the loss of grief and the loss of memory. “In the end, the edges of memory/ are licked smooth/ by the rough tongue of time,/ wiped clean./ All you did was beautiful, and good.” In the aftermath of mourning, the poem indicates, we in essence rebuild those we have lost. The dead, or more aptly our recollections of the dead, become regulated to a type of purgatory where we, the living, choose to ignore sins and scars. We choose forgetfulness and push recollection to the margins of consciousness….

Heather Simeney MacLeod on Karen Solie's "In Praise of Grief"

(How Poems Work, July 2005)
In the first stanza of Karen Solie’s poem “In Praise of Grief”, the second person narration does what few second person narration pieces of writing are able to accomplish. It literally refers to you and is not an “I”. Solie is successful at this, in the first stanza, because her poem is tightly woven, the images are sparse and exact, for some people certainly do live their whole lives (yes, their whole lives) coddled as eggs. Though the images are sparse, exact, and tightly woven, they are also universal. They are applicable to most readers. Solie offers us comfort with the realization that, of course, like the speaker of the poem, we feel alone at times….

Heather Simeney MacLeod on Brad Cran's "On Childhood"

(How Poems Work, June 2005)
Brad Cran’s poem “On Childhood” works on several levels, as most evocative and strong pieces of writing do. It is fundamentally a lamentation of childhood, of loss, imbued with particulars. The poem suggests a strange almost melancholic longing for what most thirty-somethings have in common: the sophisticated childhood gleaned from growing up in the aftermath of free-love. It speaks to the children moving out from the communes filled with doodleart and ponchos, finding Clifford Olsen (for those of us from BC) calling us at dusk from our cul-de-sacs : “We dreamt of bloodied hammers,/ a bad man and a rusty van hunched down/ in the parking lot of Safeway.” However–and this not an easy task to undertake, let alone to succeed at in such a small, contained piece of writing–the loss of childhood is made tactile. It becomes real, remembered, the loss irrevocable: “This tree I passed every night without interest/ until the potential of slick rubber tires,/ the sparkling handlebars that I gripped/ as my imagination pedaled off into the night, / where what exists around the corner is left/ out of the lens.” Cran has the ability to articulate the universal grief of growing up, and leaving behind the child we once were….