Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: Sleeping with Satan: Salem Witch-hunt, 1692

This poetry collection chronicles the stories of the women of Salem during the witch-hunt of 1692. They roughly take the reader from the bones of the events, through the tragedy and its impact on the lives of the survivors and perpetrators alike. Nearly all of the poems take the point of view of one of the women or girls, accusers and accused.

I chose this book for the Hallow e'en book review because the subject of the witch-hunt is so often brought up around this time. This isn't a book to thrill or entertain; it is a melancholy and sober work. It is not merely about the events of the witch-hunt, but the persecution of women which is ongoing in so much of our world. These poems touch very lightly on folk religion, mostly in the early poems featuring Tituba. The focus is largely on misogyny, the victims targeted because they are wealthy, fashionable, or prominent women of influence.

Mary Ann Mulhern, from St.Thomas, Ontario, now lives in Windsor. Her poems have appeared in Tower, the Windsor Review, Room of One's Own, and Windfall. Click here to read my review of Mary Ann's book Touch the Dead.

Inside Out

I wear hats
with golden plumes
my bodice scarlet
roses threaded
round and high
sultry underskirts
edged with lace

in a Salem court
my clothes turn me
inside out
a witch hidden
in silky seams
sewn by
the Devil's hand

on Gallow's Hill
my eyes feed
a midnight owl
my dress lines
nests of crows
torn lace
trailing down

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