An independent small press poetry review

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Hill-Stead Museum
35 Mountain Road
CT 06032
ISBN 0 9744245 5 2

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Renée Ashley has been awarded the Pushcart Prize, the Kenyon Review Award, the Chelsea Award and awards from the Poetry Society of America amongst her credits but only three collections of poetry, which suggests she is very selective in what she seeks to get published. In MUSEUM OF LOST WINGS, she explores the self or selves, eg in ON BEING ASKED AT WORK WHY MY OFFICE SELF HASN'T CONFRONTED MY POEM SELF ON THE PAGE:

	Oh, it looks too easy from out there, I think. We are all made of
	different stuff. And, see, a woman, knowing it or not, constructs

	her life in a manner that allows her to keep breathing. Or does not,
	in which case none of this would matter. But some lucky woman,

	no doubt, builds a life with high walls, thick stone and deep, with
	maybe a moat, maybe a 'gator or two, or some no-faced pissed-off

	thing that hasn't eaten in months and between laps is waiting just
	for you. Another, I'm certain, sets up one great hall in which all her

	selves merge endlessly in a vast sea of her-ness in which no self is 
	spared the flaying of its other selves. Ah, but this one builds a house

	of many rooms and doors and the doors are hinge-bound but she
	passes through the walls and one of the rooms, the best room, is

	soundless and dark, and in this one room the woman owes nothing...
However, Renée Ashley does owe something of a debt to Emily Dickinson. Here the body is a burden, NOT WHAT SHE HAD IN MIND starts with
	She is trying to get out of her body
and ends:
	...something spacious, airy, something un-

	hindered by bulk and bone. The yeasty 
	dead rise and toss out suggestions, but
	they're not what she had in mind. Rather

	something gauzy, something joy might 
	be eager to inhabit, the smallest open point
	of absence ready to live easily in the world.
Renée Ashley attempts to move beyond the body whilst the mind is haunted by ghosts, grief, memories and anxieties. She effectively uses longer, lyrical lines often using enjambment to keep the poem fluid, giving it a gauzy feel. But the poems stand up to re-reading and demonstrate why Renée Ashley is a much-awarded poet. Her carefully considered selections pay off.

reviewer: Emma Lee.