Matronalia

By A.B. Dillon

Matronalia
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A mother reveals a festering secret to her daughter after years of trying to conceal it. Since her daughter’s birth, she has been suffering from a disease that causes bizarre symptoms: sudden calcification, the growth and disintegration of extra ribs, coral splinters in the ... Read more


Overview

A mother reveals a festering secret to her daughter after years of trying to conceal it. Since her daughter’s birth, she has been suffering from a disease that causes bizarre symptoms: sudden calcification, the growth and disintegration of extra ribs, coral splinters in the heart, unrelenting depression. As the mother examines the pathology of her disease, she offers her daughter fierce and harrowing advice on everything from sex to survival to love.

A mother is a recorder, a journal, an illimitable, constant aperture.We are seers, voyeurs of the worst order.

Part ode, part prayer, and part manifesto, Matronalia interlaces ancestral legacies and personal tribulations to reveal what often remains unsaid from mother to daughter. The energy, intelligence and grace of the language and imagination is itself antidote to the dilemmas and shame they explore. Matronalia is, in essence, a confession that evolves into a love poem.

Go to art when you are lost, my darling.Stand before something that breaks you.

A.B. Dillon

A. B. Dillon is an award-winning author and educator. Her first book, Matronalia, won the 2019 Alberta Writers' Guild Award for Poetry. 'Miss Mercy', a selection from this book, was long-listed for the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize. Originally from Windsor, Ontario, Dillon now resides in Calgary, Alberta.

Excerpt

Inverting the usual idea of a celebration of childbirth and motherhood, Dillon’s poems examine another dimension of motherhood that is rarely explored. Using poetry’s powerful, emotional triggers, Dillon creates a mother’s point of view that is central and immediate through her acute powers of observation and her intense imagery. From the very first poem we bear witness as a mother offers fierce counsel to her daughter to atone for a festering secret. Personal and congenital mythologies reticulate like Celtic knot work, revealing in fragments what she has tried in vain to suppress — a malaise of the heart and a hereditary disease, eased only in confessing its pathology to her daughter.

In their tone and vivid imagery, as well as emotional precision, these poems are reminiscent of the mother poems of Sharon Olds and Sylvia Plath, with the grieving defiance of Gwendolyn Brooks. Uniquely, A. B. Dillon locates this specific mother’s tribulations in an ancestral context: the pains, joys, and failures are not only of her time but of every time before.

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