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Book Review :: Excisions by Hilary Plum

Excisions by Hilary Plum book cover image

Guest Post by Susan Kay Anderson

I’m attracted at once to the cover of Excisions by Hilary Plum. It is one of those famous tapestries from Medieval times, “The Unicorn Surrenders to a Maiden,” which is part of The Unicorn Tapestry series. That theme is theorized to represent Christ (with the unicorn being hunted) and the Crucifixion/Courtly Love. The titular long poem and section weaves in and out of the world of the Unicorn Tapestry and comes face-to-face with real-life situations and circumstances that Plum shows readers. The poet seems like the maiden, then like the wounded and dying unicorn, and then like the hound who has attacked the unicorn. Each line of Plum’s poems is precise and layers itself against the next line so that each creates a huge, whole image. These are such a mix of old and new, as in these lines from “If a gun disappears it reappears”:

heaving stones no archeologist
schooled in empire

The images Plum creates are intriguing and captivating. I don’t know what to do with so many of them but to go back again and again to meditate and dream.

Excisions by Hilary Plum. Black Lawrence Press, October 2022.

Reviewer bio: Susan Kay Anderson lives in southwestern Oregon’s Umpqua River Basin. Her long poem “Man’s West Once” was selected for Barrow Street Journal’s “4 X 2 Project” and is included in Mezzanine (2019). Anderson also published Virginia Brautigan Aste’s memoir, Please Plant This Book Coast To Coast (2021).

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