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In this, her first prose work, poet Peacock shares a profoundly intimate tale of coming to terms with her creative identity and her decision, vital to that identity, to remain without children. As a poet, Peacock has that rare ability to examine things through words, and here, her life is the subject, a paradise she has uncovered piece by piece, to reveal the garden she has so lovingly cultivated from the bare ground of a troubled childhood. From her earliest memory of sitting beneath a kitchen table, hearing her parents— pain before the enormity of marriage and parenthood, the fact of being an unwanted child discovering language, to the moment in time when she can fully feel through words what it means to be alive and free of that early burden, Peacock draws us into the journey of becoming a woman-poet who has chosen childlessness as an important part of her identity. “The emptiness that is required for all creativity” was an important discovery for Peacock, yet it troubled her throughout her life, sexually, emotionally, and finally creatively. This exhilarating memoir stumbles in real time upon the observation that a sonnet is “the size of a plump made bed, and a blank page is a room . . . where consciousness sleeps.” The sensuality of her language is a measure of the directness with which she has lived the issues of her womanhood. She stares down the blurry memories of her hard-drinking father, her burdened and dependent mother, and her self- destructive sister and finds the air she needs to thrive in those friends who stood by her, and those men who encouraged and loved her, and saw her poetry as their true offspring. Once free of inhibition, Peacock’s adulthood grows out of childhood the way extraordinary fruits sometimes grow out of a waterless earth: stronger, more resilient, and bearing the kaleidoscope fruit of creativity.

Pub Date: May 4th, 1998
ISBN: 1-57322-097-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Riverhead
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1998


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