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Book Review :: The Fastening by Julie Doxsee

The Fastening, poetry by Julie Doxsee published by Black Ocean book cover image

Guest Post by Jami Macarty

In The Fastening, Julie Doxsee’s fifth collection, the poet makes a poetry of unburdening “that feeling / she always felt”: imperiled. At the center of these poems is a “flesh-twin” of childhood that arises when a new mother’s fears for the safety of her children trigger a visitation of memories of her own lack of safety as a child:

When I am old enough, I’ll know
a mother’s sunset can’t blacken out
the underside of the door, I’ll know
I can’t stay by the river in the park
because there’s no protection
from being a girl.

(“Masterpiece of the Hijacked Girl”)

As well as being a book that plumbs the experiences of a childhood, the implications of being a daughter, and the meaning of motherhood, this is a book about survival—the precarious survival of a woman and an artist: the “rough forms of me.” In these poems, there always seems to be something inserting hooks, applying thumbs; something to get out from under so the “body / can shake this debt” of gender-blame in pursuit of the pleasure orbiting connections between life partners and between mother and sons. The pleasure that fastens a woman to her life and a poet to her “imagination— / the strobing mono-light blurring as it wails near.” With narrative concision, lyric urgency, and emotional coherence, Julie Doxsee speaks from “roadways that artists can’t / fake.”

The Fastening, Julie Doxsee. Black Ocean Press, May 2022.

Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems appear. More at https://jamimacarty.com/

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