House and Fire by Maria Hummel (review by Andrew R. ’17)

House and FireHouse and Fire by Maria Hummel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The poems collected in Maria Hummel’s House and Fire present emotions and dreams in their purest and least inhibited forms. Drawing from a huge variety of poetic forms, from archaic structures like the ghazal (a form of ancient Arabic verse) and the villanelle to sprawling free-verse constructions that span several pages, these pieces revolve around a single theme: the confused and frightened emotions of a mother whose infant son is slowly dying on a hospital bed. The narrative is all the more powerful because Hummel, a mother herself, has suffered through the same trying times as her narrator. With brutal self-reflection and honesty slathered unabashedly across its pages, House and Fire draws on the full potential of the poetic genre to transfer ideas straight from the writer to the reader. Even the most enigmatic and complex of Hummel’s poems will fill poets and non-poets alike with the raw emotion of the speaker and of the author herself.

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