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BREAKING & ENTERING by Barbara Goldberg


New and Selected Poems

by Barbara Goldberg

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-944585-46-4
Publisher: WordWorks

A compilation of poems spanning more than three decades.

Goldberg’s works tackle a variety of themes that touch on the Renaissance, contemporary women’s issues, fairy tales, fables, and romantic and family relationships. This compilation is divided into six sections, with each corresponding to the time frame when the poems were published. Interestingly, the book starts with the poet’s most recent body of work, then jumps back to 1986, and from there proceeds chronologically with selections from previously published collections. The first and newest section explores events of day-to-day life, moving from concrete details to more global issues: “How beautiful it is by the sea, even though / there is war in the air.” The author uses familiar references, such as Penelope in the Odyssey or Marilyn Monroe, to discuss the ways women have been perceived by men throughout time, then presents these perceptions from women’s perspectives. In “Marilyn,” the speaker notes that “So many / girls like to make themselves stupid, or lose / on purpose, like this girl in college, also blond”; she also expresses her own preference for men “who hoarded secrets” over those who don’t know “how to spar or crack / a joke.” In the sections that follow, the author effectively employs an assortment of forms, incorporating dialogue, character descriptions that resemble those in a play, and letters, among other narrative devices. The third section, which is appropriately titled “Cautionary Tales,” puts intriguing spins on traditional fairy tales, as in “The Woodcutter,” which explores the life of the hunter from “Snow White.” One of the book’s most notable features is the variety of voices and characters that the poet uses to engage the reader right up to the very end. Lush descriptions and images appear throughout, and the poems flow beautifully.

A delightful selection of playful and compelling works.