CONVERSATIONS DURING SLEEP by Michele Wolf

CONVERSATIONS DURING SLEEP

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This modest and clearly expressed debut collection by a New York journalist dwells on a number of family traumas: the death of the poet's father during her childhood, and the more horrific recent death of her sister, whose painful illness she describes in grim detail. ""Levitation"" and ""Inheritance"" recall both her father's shoes and his more abstract legacy of bones. Her younger sister's death haunts her everywhere: she begins with girlish memories of their mutual astigmatism, her sister's wedding, and her own leave-taking for college. Numerous poems detail the hospital deathwatch, and memories of these painful moments intrude on the poet's reveries, whether she's recalling her own triumph as a spelling bee champ, or remembering her sister on a respirator while she herself is scuba-diving years later. Many poems detail her own love life, but Wolf is always drawn back to family: in ""For My Mother, ""she worries about their resemblance and wants to ""revolt against what/We are born to""; she also recollects walking in on her mother and stepfather in flagrante, the horror of which pales beside her chilling tale of being raped. Not a mere sob-sister, Wolf finds affirmations all around her: the angels in a New Mexico church, a tree planted in Israel for her sister, her nephew's loving baby talk. Plaintive and unabashedly sentimental, a confessional collection that, like most first books, leans too heavily on autobiography but, still, shows lots of promise in its measured voice.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: "Anhinga (P.O. Box 10595, Tallahassee, FL 32302)"