Memorial Drive – A Daughter’s Memoir: Cleverly crafted, insightful and moving

Book review: former US poet laureate Natasha Trethewey comes to terms with the murder of her mother

 Natasha Trethewey   engages, as she writes, with the significance of what she is doing. Photograph:  Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Natasha Trethewey engages, as she writes, with the significance of what she is doing. Photograph: Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“[U]nless you are at home in the metaphor . . . you are not safe anywhere,” wrote Robert Frost. “Because you are not at ease with figurative values: you don’t know the metaphor in its strength and its weakness . . . You are not safe in science; you are not safe in history.”

In this devastating memoir, former US poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey reckons with the force of metaphor. Poetry, you might say, is the medium of metaphor – every line and image brimming with double meaning. But memoir – the mode of real life, of remembering – is at once figurative and literal. These things happened, but what happens when you put words to them?

The Irish Times
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