Jennifer Givhan's newest chapbook explores motherhood and the mystic power that passes between generations.
Praise for The Daughter's Curse
The Daughter’s Curse hunts at the beauty and horror between demons at mama’s bedposts and the moment she allows her children to be carried back to bed, or the liminal space between mothers sharp as knives and the psych ward of the nearest hospital, like that between mother and daughter. In these lyrical poems, Jenn Givhan’s figurative daughter is both fierce and cautious while knowing ‘her mama’s hands / are her own.’ Givhan’s poems are ambitious and unsettling—poems meant for the lost girls who wear the ‘dark sleep suit.’
~Stephanie Bryant Anderson, author of Monozygotic | Co-dependent and editor of Red Paint Hill
This book, like a warning. This critique and celebration demands to be seen; demands we too learn how there is no happily ever after, that a beloved desert may possess dangers but it also holds beauty close, if we look where Jenn Givhan looks. Our speaker’s curse, we discover, is memory, omission: what language as we know it cannot communicate. Givhan rejects and subverts all that is known: familiar tales, syntax, language itself, stirring it in some alchemical process invisible to us readers, though we sense some magic has taken place. And what we’re given is absolute gold.
~ Stacey Balkun, author of Lost City Museum
Is it better to be hunter or hunted, gutter or gutted? That is the quandary around which poems stalk and retreat in Jenn Givhan’s most recent collection, The Daughter’s Curse. Daughters, damaged by bad mothering, grow up to experience impostor syndrome. In “Goldman’s Fake Mother,” for example, the speaker worries that she’s little more than façade, the barn front without a sheltering stall. Hollowness is a repeating motif. Female bodies are violated again and again to reveal insubstantiality. Children are neglected and exposed to the elements. What kind of mother would allow such abuse to go on? But the poet’s words salvage and transform internal wilderness. In the final lines of “Reverse: A Girlhood,” she unmouth[s] / the dirge / unchant[s] goodbye / unbur[ies] the child.” No phony magician could ever pull off a stunt as miraculous as that!
~Brenda Mann Hammack, author of Humbug and editor of Glint Journal