"When Grief Keeps Company": Poetic Language and Mourning the Mother in Sarah Maguire's "The Invisible Mender" and Lucie Brock-Broido's "Soul Keeping Company"

By Rose Lucas.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: January 20, 2015 $US5.00

This paper explores the ways in which poetic language might enact and facilitate the fundamental human experience of mourning, where mourning is understood theoretically to encompass the subject's always bi-directional relationship to loss. This concept of mourning as a process involving a concomitant acknowledgement of absence and an ongoing introjection of the lost object, is here considered through the particular focus of two poems which deal with the loss of the mother. The rupture of this dyadic relationship of mother and daughter is read as emblematic of the primary tearing upon which subjectivity is predicated. Through a focused literary critical analysis, involving both close reading of poems and a theorisation of the nature of a broader poetic language, and informed by a psychoanalytic framework, this paper describes mourning as a form of poesis and the poem itself as an ethical process by which to grapple with the rich interplay of loss and possibility, speech and silence.

Keywords: Mourning, Poetry, Gender

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 12, Issue 2, January 2015, pp.11-17. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: January 20, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 510.312KB)).

Dr. Rose Lucas

Lecturer, Writing, Culture and Communication, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Dr Rose Lucas is a Melbourne academic and poet. She currently teaches literature and creative writing at Victoria University, and previously at Monash University where she held positions of Senior Lecturer in English and Director of Women's Studies. She is widely published in the areas of women's poetry (including recent work on Jane Kenyon, Anne Sexton, Judith Wright), literature and psychoanalysis, and cinema studies. She is the co-author of Bridgings: Readings in Australian Women's Poetry (OUP, 1996). More recently, she has focused on the writing of her own poetry, and her collection, Even in the Dark (UWAP), was published in 2013.