Emily Mohn-Slate is one of the greatest emerging poets I know, and THE FALLS is a beautiful, often breathtaking, portrait of a woman’s life in our times. These poems range from a painful first marriage and its lingering scars to finding new love and becoming a mother.
Mohn-Slate’s motherhood poems are some of the most revealing of her work and perspective. In “I’m Trying to Write a Joyful Poem” she asks, “why does joy always slide / into darkness?” All along, she juxtaposes the joy of tickling her son with “the collapse of long / love, how even the brightest / glint in the eye / becomes shadow eventually.”
Possibly a better example is in the poem “Girl on the Street” where she overlays her daughter just learning to walk with overly-sexualized, objectifying comments from men. In the mix are a series of poems written to the obscure poet, Charlotte Mew. In these poems, Mohn-Slate resurrects Mew and her work for a new generation of readers while simultaneously using Mew’s life to make revelations about our current time.
The title poem for the collection originally appeared in the April / May 2016 issue of Rogue Agent Journal (http://www.rogueagentjournal.com/issue13-14), but I’m pasting the entire poem here:
White noise like galloping
horses, water twisting over
rock edge, a green-grey pour.
lure me down. Heavy creatures,
we were not made to rise.
The mist packs a shape
like a hand reaching.
I want to be inside it.
A woman on her honeymoon
climbed down to the falls alone.
She picked her way over
slippery rocks, and disappeared.
Barely alive in her hospital bed,
she told reporters, I wanted
to touch beauty. It was like
a tornado pulled me in.
Mohn-Slate is such accomplished poet. Some of her newer work deals with the ways our lives merge with technology. One such poem, “People at Yellow Lights Scrolling,” appears online at AGNI. Please go and read it!
You can find links to more of her work on her author page: https://emilymohnslate.com/poems/.
THE FALLS is engaging and accessible while also working at the highest levels of craft. You will read these poems and only wish there were more. Please buy a copy of this book and see for yourself. A great place to purchase is from White Whale Books, Mohn-Slate’s home book store in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. They are also hosting a virtual reading on November 20, 2020, featuring Mohn-Slate, and it would be awesome to see you there.