The Antigone Poems

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Haunting. If one word describes Marie Slaight’s The Antigone Poems, this is it.

The collection of poems, some only a fragment of a thought, others filling the page with a stream of consciousness narrative, tells the story of Antigone from the first person perspective of Antigone herself. Loosely based on the Greek myth of Antigone, who inevitably suffers as a rebel in her family, the poems are filled with anguish, emotional violence and suffering. However, Slaight comments near the end of her book that she wanted to “live all lives, all deaths, encompass all women.” Thus the pain, anguish, and suffering in this book applies to more than just the doomed Antigone of Greek mythology; it applies to the collective suffering of all women.

The tone of the poems is understandably dark considering the subject material, and the periodic charcoal drawings by Terrence Tasker only enhance the haunting nature of the story told by Slaight. Furthermore, the poems are delivered from a deeply personal and intimate viewpoint, so the reader is often tied directly to the emotions of the speaker. The often short form of each poem also helps add an intimate feeling as each poem seems to represent a separate thought about Antigone’s torment.

For those who are not familiar with the original roots of the Greek myth involving Antigone, some readers may have little grounding to understand the greater narrative taking place in the poems. For this reason, some research or prior knowledge is helpful to understand the basis of the collection. Nevertheless, as already pointed out, this collection encompasses more than the sufferings of a single woman; it involves the torment of many.

Overall, Slaight’s The Antigone Poems, written in the 1970s and never released until now, is a disturbingly poignant and startlingly vivid portrait of one woman’s suffering in the face of pain and heartbreak. It will surely not be forgotten after the turn of the last page.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 90 pages
Publisher Altaire Productions and Publications
Publish Date 15-Jan-2014
ISBN 9780980644708 Buy this Book
Issue September 2013
Category Poetry & Short Stories


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