[REVIEW] Broom Broom, by Brecken Hancock & The Spell of Coming (or Going) by Mary Lou Buschi


Coach House Press

72 pages, $17.95


Patasola Press

48 pages,  $10.80


Review by Adam Sol


Grief is one of our first reasons for inventing poetry: the urge to inscribe a loss that cannot be recovered. Gilgamesh’s Enkidu, Homer’s Achilles, Jeremiah’s Jerusalem, Shelley’s Keats, Ginsberg’s mother, Olds’ father, Mary Jo Bang’s son – all have been memorably recorded and mourned in verse.

But your loss is not necessarily my loss.  The hard part about writing from grief is that most of a poet’s readers will not know or care about the poet’s mother or brother or son or city the way the poet does.  And so, if the poet is to draw successfully on our emotions, something of that loss must be transferred, rather than merely reported, to us.

Two recent debut collections of poetry attempt to convey, through emotional perception or linguistic flair, a sense of the mind struggling to cope with devastating loss. The Spell of Coming (or Going) revolves around the tragic death of the poet’s brother.  Although the specifics are not described in any detail, Buschi at her best can evoke the complex emotional landscapes that make families unique and fascinating as they confront suffering.  In “Clocks,” a grieving father spends his time “bent over his box of stopped watches.”  “When the Wreck Has Been” describes the strange, sad horror of dispersing the ashes of a loved one:  “It’s your body I toss from my hand, / wipe on my trousers, you who I chased // down streets as a child, always just beyond my reach.”  These moments evoke the tragedy that haunts and compels The Spell of Coming (or Going)Continue reading

The Lightning Room With Mary Lou Buschi

In the history of our past, the dog days of July, we presented two poems by Mary Lou Buschi, “Eddie” and “When That Phone Call Comes.” We find them reinvigorated, in this interview with the author:

1. Who is Eddie?

Eddie is my archetypal “heart of darkness.” He is both man and child- victim and villain. When I met him I was living in an unfamiliar place. Nothing made sense. I didn’t make sense. Eddie was the embodiment of my own horror; my own misunderstanding of a landscape and a people.

2. Both poems offer the sense of something striven for, a quest incomplete, something gathered at roots. Is this a frequent theme in your writing?

Yes, I believe all of my poems have some sort of quest, as you call it. Or, perhaps they are journeys. Some are literal and some metaphorical. I realized recently that so many of the poems take place in cars. The poem, “When that Phone Call Comes” began with a real script that I found on my husband’s desk. We were turning in our first leased car and he was researching the best way to negotiate. When I saw it I thought he had been writing and read it like a poem. The moment I realized I was reading a script sent from a dealer, I began writing the poem. Continue reading