Starlight & Error by Remica Bingham-Risher

Disclosure: Remica has taught as guest faculty in my MFA program and I have met her personally.

This is a lovely collection of poems about family, love, different configurations of relationships, forgiveness… partings and comings back together, and always music. There are many mentions of music throughout, as an important thread in the speaker’s homes (young home with family and adult home with family of her own) and in her life; this adds up to the braided thread of music through the poems themselves. I love her writing about children and family, the ways in which people can be family without necessarily sharing the biological ties we (culturally) expect. “Son·sor·éa (\sahn-soar-ray\)” and “Mother Necessity” both comment on being a mother to a child not one’s own, and “Ways to Please a Five-year-old Superhero” is first a list poem (which you know I love) and then as well a pretty straightforward and I think helpful guide, as its title promises. These poems delighted me, as do the love poems (always, and coming off of Mary Carroll-Hackett’s collection that I reviewed the other day… I can still remember Mary telling us, at residency, that “it gets better” as you get older, and I love how both these women’s poetry reflects that, that love and, yes, sex can be messy and filled with contradictions but also deepening and enriching as they age and complicate). “Training or a Weapon” is about trauma and different ways of teaching, and I think I can remember Remica reading this at residency and I loved it then too. And there is a poem titled: “A student writes the thesis: If you never find your soulmate, this is when one must face the harsh reality of making major decisions alone and, though the grammar is incorrect, I give him credit,” and it is going to stick with me.

I still find poetry hard, but also rewarding. Thanks, Remica.

Rating: 7 days like this.

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