Tender Hooks
Beth Ann Fennelly
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Buy *Tender Hooks: Poems* online

Tender Hooks: Poems
Beth Ann Fennelly
W.W. Norton
119 pages
May 2005
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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This is an exceptional volume of poems that reach deep into the heart of motherhood, unearthing the unexpected emotions of childbirth. Far from facile, Fennelly fearlessly exposes herself with visual and visceral language that defines the almost inexpressible joy, tender sensations and desperate fear of loss that crowd the emotions:

"I whispered into her see-through ear
I'd keep her safe forever-
I, her first lover."
And there is undeniable sorrow, as the poet grieves for the baby she lost, the sister her new daughter will never know, a sad recognition that the lost child will forever be remembered: "Oh, I've botched grief's ratio. My failure of proportion surprising, often shaming me."

The title, Tender Hooks, is born of a childish misunderstanding of "tenterhooks". This slim but powerful volume fills me with unexpected tenderness and newly awakened feelings. Fennelly mines the language until it yields the desired effect, plunging into private thoughts and fears, ferociously passionate, often erotic.

"What a large target we make.
The great dramas all begin like this:
a surfeit of happiness, a glass-smooth pond
just begging for a stone."
The sense of humor startles, makes me laugh out loud, this lack of pretentiousness in a writer who appreciates the ambiguity of words:
"for poets who grow up to be comp teachers
because our spelling is wrecked forever
so are our idioms and old wise tales...
a student writes of the novel,
that won ‘the Bullet Surprise'
it drives her 'out of my mine'."
These are poems for thinking women who see life ever in transition and, therefore, cherish small moments of extraordinary intensity scattered among the mundane trivia of everyday life. Inconceivable, that I might have missed this treasure.

Click here for Luan Gaines' interview with Tender Hooks: Poems author Beth Ann Fennelly

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Luan Gaines, 2004

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