Suzannah V. Evans reviews Jodie Hollander’s new collection of poems
SUZANNAH V. EVANS
“In the end she was never quite sure / whether it was real or she was dreaming.” Jodie Hollander’s powerful debut collection is as hypnotic and rich as a dream, taking as its epigraph Rimbaud’s assertion that “A thousand dreams within me softly burn”, and returning to the word “dream” repeatedly, balancing dreamscapes with vividly realized portraits from life. It is peopled with musicians, music-flooded, and there is a sense of a whole family history pressed into its pages. The mother is the dominant figure, present from the collection’s first poem, “Splitting and Fucking”. Here, the title words are repeated, hammered throughout the poem, echoing the simmering violence of “that last guy” who “split all kinds / of things like / the front door”. Meaning is split across the poem’s line breaks – the poem explicitly plays with form – and different senses of the title words are considered, so that the poem takes in “split / personalities”, “ear-splitting” screams, and a “split / up” relationship, before concluding with a devastating cancer diagnosis: “mutant cells / splitting and fucking / all over / her insides”.