Thursday, September 20, 2018

Review of AN EVERYDAY THING by Nancy Richardson

An EveryDay Thing
by Nancy Richardson
Paperback, 120 pages
Published July 13th, 2018 by Finishing Line Press

Nancy Richardson’s poems concern coming of age in the rust-belt of Ohio during a period of decay of the physical and political structures that made the region once solid and predictable. Her poems chart the shifting of the foundations upon which a life is built and the unpredictability of events that have profound personal and political consequences, including the shootings at Kent State University.


I would like to start off this review by saying how mind-blowing this compilation of poetry is, never have I read something so creative and atypical. AN EVERYDAY THING is so intense it is like reading someone's soul. Undoubtedly, as you consume this writing it will rip you apart with turmoil and tragedy. For this very reason as a reader, you cannot miss such fabulousness.

I find it fascinating that Richards uses the Kent State shooting as the main focal point in this book of poems since on May 4th, 1970 was the day the people of America became afraid of their own government and since that day nothing has changed, only intensified. Furthermore, weaving in poems of atrocities taking place within today’s society, such as spousal abuse, voter fraud, loss of loved ones, rich people getting richer by polluting the earth and many more subjects. To me, these poems represent the rapid decline that society is making as a whole. The most important point is will society pull out of its downward spiral before it is too late.

The formation and layout of each poem are as unique as the poems themselves. Richardson is quite the rare poet in the way she can paint a portrait of a senseless massacre with only 11 black lines. Additionally, the construct of the poem “MY MOTHER’S HUNGER” is exclusive in the layout combining two poems into one. Line one starts the first poem than line two is the start of the second. Therefore, as a reader, you will read every other line finding two poems in one. This is one of my favorite poems due to the possibility of interpretations. Do they have equivalent interpretations? Or could they be contradictory? Maybe there is no relation at all. Everyone’s interpretation is different, nonetheless. I am going to wrap up my review with a poem that I can strongly relate to. Why is this? I have Rheumatoid Arthritis at 44 years old and this poem resonates deeply with me.
Her fingers bent in strange ways,
twigs blown in a strong wind.
At night I would stand beside her
at the kitchen sink, dry each dish.
She worried each small bit of grease,
each baked-on remnant of food,
scrubbing as the hot water poured
over her twisted fingers. Balm of heat
on skin, sacrament of cleanliness

Nancy Richardson’s poems have appeared in journals anthologies. She has written two chapbooks. The first, Unwelcomed Guest (2013) by Main Street Rag Publishing Company and the second, the Fire’s Edge (2017) by Finishing Line Press concerned her formative youth in the rust-belt of Ohio and the dislocation, including the Kent State shootings that affected her young adulthood. In An Everyday Thing, she has included those poems and extended the narrative to memories of persons and events and the make a life.

She has spent a good deal of her professional life working in government and education at the local, state, and federal levels and as a policy liaison in the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Education and for the Governor of Massachusetts. She received an MFA in Writing from Vermont College in 2005 and has served on the Board of the Frost Place in Franconia, NH. Visit her Website.