The daughter of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, and a painter and children's book author in her own right, adds her own voice to the recent hubbub about her parents in two poems that will surely draw the most attention in the first volume of highly accomplished verse. —Granny— angrily addresses her maternal grandmother with its brilliant, fractured fairy-tale opening (—Mirror, mirror on the wall/Who is the least dead/Of us all?—) and finds the poet glad to avoid her mother's curse of —mother-guilt— from the loveless old woman. —Readers— rails against the cultists who pore over her mother's work and life, desecrating her memory, fingering —her mental underwear,— leaving nothing private for her daughter. These fierce poems aside, Hughes shares her father's rough elementalism—bones and mud and rocks share space with a bestiary of violent and dead birds, insects, and mammals: a dead cow bloated by the side of the road, a rotting kookaburra, a spider killing with a kiss, and a fox eating through its trapped leg. There's nothing sentimental in her poems about the tiger, the walrus, and the giraffe, though her deceptively plain language—with its children's-book vocabulary—lures you into her chilling and unsparing world. Like her father, she compounds words, alliterates, and rhymes with a blunt direction, and an almost gothic sensibility. For all her brute honesty and Grimm thoughts, Hughes finds consolation in the —insane grin/And rolling belly— of —Nothing,— which is, in her dark vision, —enough.— A major debut.
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