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ALONE IN THE HOUSE OF MY HEART by Kari Gunter-Seymour Kirkus Star



by Kari Gunter-Seymour

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-8040-1243-0
Publisher: Swallow Press

Gunter-Seymour’s intricate poetry collection weaves together themes of grief and joy.

This poetry compilation begins in the past with “Vernal Equinox”: “I’ve been thinking about last times / I never knew were the last.” Across five sections, Gunter-Seymour’s works continue to reckon with the past head-on as they tell of childhood in Appalachian Ohio and the experience of being a mother. The poems portray the mosaic of her speakers’ lives, touching on a complex relationship with a mother, a loved one’s battle with alcohol and drug use, a fierce love of a child, and an insatiable commitment to the possibilities of language. As readers move through the collection, they will also encounter reflections on current topics, such as Covid-19, police brutality, the opioid epidemic, and others. A wide variety of poetic forms and devices brings a musicality to the poems that underscores both the simplicity and the jaggedness of love, and each section moves fluidly into the next. Beyond that, Gunter-Seymour attaches her speakers to physical locations through language, offering personal meaning to places such as New York City, Ohio, and Tennessee. Overall, the language is stunning and abrupt, with nuggets of introspection, as in “Rorschach Test”: “Listen—there are things to love / about failure too. Sometimes / we make mistakes, call them coincidence, / trapped like thirsty sponges / between memory and the moment.” Gunter-Seymour doesn’t shy away from discomfort, impressively embracing painful moments and showing how memories define people only as much as they allow them to do so. The collection’s title is a testament to the idea that being alone doesn’t mean being without a sense of place; one can create a home inside of oneself and move forward with “the sense / of something waiting to unfold, / leaving only the wait” (“Weather Report”).

A breathtaking, artful set of poems on loss, family, place, and memory.