Natalie Schembri reviews The Truth of Houses
Reviewed by Natalie Schembri (The Beat Magazine - December 3, 2011)
The Truth of Houses
Brick Books (2011), 128 pp., $19.00
It files all the memories
lets them slip out
now and again in case
you are ready
to place them
where they belong
(“further qualities of the hippocampus”1-8)
Ann Scowcroft’s The Truth of Houses constructs an impressive debut collection of poetry framing the past, present and future. Scowcroft reflects on the dynamics of a household, the individuals that inhabit its rooms and the lingering memories contained in the complex walls. Readers are invited to take on the role of eavesdroppers, bearing witness to artifacts of memory.
Divided into four sections, the collection assembles phantom images of suffering, love, new beginnings and self-discovery. Christopher Alexander’s first epigraph of the collection fully portrays the essence of The Truth of Houses: “this seeming chaos which is in us is a rich, rolling, / swelling, dying, lilting, singing, laughing, shouting, / crying sleeping order,” an array of emotions and experiences that construct human identity.
Scowcroft provides readers with a homey intimacy through glimpses into the lives of mothers, sisters, sons, brothers, wives and grandmothers, each page in the collection serving as a window or door of entry into the secrets, stories and aspirations of her characters. The narrator’s detailed descriptions of physical space and the contents of a house function as intriguing access points into each character’s person.
As stated in “Second storey,” The Truth of Houses reflects upon “what makes us safe, and what makes a home / and what lies beneath the monsters” (16-17). Scowcroft does not shy away from revealing the honest and raw sentiments of the human condition.
Through intimate recollections of the past and fraught visions of the future, Scowcroft is worthy of the rapt attention of any curious reader. The Truth of Houses is definitely an affective read and reread. Highly recommend.
For more information, visit www.brickbooks.ca/?page_id=3&bookid=226
Natalie Schembri is a recent Western grad who resides in London, Ontario. http://www.thebeatmagazine.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=628:natalie-schembri-reviews-the-truth-of-horses&catid=26:words-category&Itemid=40