Broom Broom

Coach House Books

Reviewed by Méira Cook

What exists inside the mother? asks the narrator. The mother who once carried the daughter is now the carrier of an illness and the daughter fears discovering the mother’s disorder inside her. The deeply discomforting phrase “Mother’s meat” will take on greater resonance as we learn about the horrifying discord between the quiet within and the rage outside, the mother’s decline, her movement towards a state of inchoate flesh, and beyond that, to thingness.

Broom Broom is a fractured, piecemeal narrative about the detritus that we need to sweep away before arriving at the compulsion to confess. That Hancock is leery of the transparency of personal confession in poetry is clear in the glittery artifice in which she troubles to clothe it. Her reliance on technical artistry and poetic form — sonnet, villanelle, haiku, poetic essay, couplets — frames hysteria, sets trauma at a remove, lets the reader know that this is a poet in control of her craft, her broom. Poems such as “Brecken” and “Evil Brecken” both use and abuse the writer’s first name, in this way seeming to exorcise self-hatred with humour and wordplay, rhythm, the rusty clang of language set against the image’s subtle power to console:

Uterus, barbed. Tubes, unheimlich.

Pickled genes; paretic pelvis. Brr,

I need protecting …


Hush, my Brecken, lie down with me.

Lover, lecher, what beckons — your bestie,

penetrant, bloodline, heaven. (58)

This review is excerpted from a longer piece published in CV2.

Méira Cook lives and writes in Winnipeg.