Book Review

Violet by Selima Hill

Photo on 23-03-2014 at 22.31 #2

More poetry. Shit! I’m getting versification.

Selima Hill’s Violet is a poetry collection containing two sets of poems, both of which had been previously published elsewhere. One is My Sister’s Sister and the other is My Husband’s WifeThe two separate sections each focus on a singular topic, and much like Sharon Olds’ The Father and the later Stag’s Leap, they are the death of a parent* and the end of a marriage.

My Sister’s Sister focuses on the relationship between Hill and her sister and how it was affected by the death of their mother. This is an angry, invective, piece, offering some beautiful moments of pain and grief alongside the more robust response to the accusations of the death being “her fault”. Maybe in reality it was, but this is not how the event is explored in the poems.

The poems of My Sister’s Sister are, mostly, very short – there are usually four poems on each double page spread. This affords a rapid pace and a sense of continuation and movement and change. Which I like.

My Husband’s Wife, though, I thought was excellent. It had all of the bite and the anger and the fucking sense of betrayal I felt that Stag’s Leap lacked, and Hill’s (I’m presuming these works are autobiographical – should I not?) hurt and sadness are shown clearly through her hatred and interest and dismissal of the other woman, her focus on clothing and clothes as the exterior signifier of identity and personality…

There are some great images in this book, some open-feeling comments on emotional trauma and some searingly bitchy bits about both her sister and her ex-husband.

Violet is a strong collection, though really it is a collection of two pre-existing collections.

No regrets with reading this one.


* Well, the effects of a parents’ death on an already fraught sibling relationship…

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