Saturday, March 12, 2005

Don't Turn Away

It is not often that you pick up a small, rather unassuming book of poetry and immediately get hooked, but this is precisely what happened to me with Patricia Wellingham-Jones’ Don’t Turn Away: Poems About Breast Cancer. As one reviewer implied, this is a book that should be carried around in the hip pocket of many more nurses. I would add – by husbands, boyfriends, sons, and fathers of women with breast cancer as well. It’s a book that neither feels sorry for itself not puts on shows of self-bravado. From the first poem in which the author’s initial diagnosis appears almost from the margins like Icarus in Breugel’s landscape to the last page, this book is an honest chronicling of one woman’s experience with breast cancer and subsequent mastectomy. The poems range from the ironic humor of “Put a Sock in it” to the taut title poem, but they are never self-indulgent. In their very concreteness, they lend themselves to universality – something most of us wish more of our poems do. Don’t Turn Away deserves a wide audience. Another poet who writes of her experiences with breast cancer is Susan Downe. These are featured in her book Little Horse which includes poetry on a variety of other topics as well. I have only seen Downe’s poetry on the web, so I can’t vouch for the entire book. Still, I like the spare, direct style of what I’ve seen so far and think it definitely deserves a reading.


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January 21, 2006  

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