Grief is the Thing With Feathers, by Max Porter
Review by Paraic O’Donnell
Grief Is the Thing With Feathers
Ted Hughes’ Crow marked his return to poetry following the suicide of Sylvia Plath, a cataclysm that can be felt in that collection’s violent rupturing of form. Borne of his obsession with Hughes, Max Porter’s début appears at first to confront bereavement more directly. A woman has died suddenly. In their London flat, her husband and young sons cling to the disordered remnants of family life. We hear their voices in alternating passages: Dad is immersed in grief; the boys, profoundly hurt, orbiting a barely understood absence. Enter Crow, an ancient trickster of inscrutable motives (as he was for Hughes), and here a superbly voiced embodiment of natural ferocity. Porter has been daring in shaping this extraordinary book, but its force is in its almost unbearably proximate examination of loss.