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Poetry Collection Review: The Wendys by Allison Benis White

Updated: Sep 9, 2021

Title: The Wendys

Author: Allison Benis White

Themes: Sorrow & Loss, Violence, Loneliness, Partnership, Self-Identity

Three Words to Describe the Poems: Weird, Dark, Melancholic

Summary and Comments: The one word, other than the three listed above, that best describes this collection to me is strange. From the way the poems are structured (some are written with words spaced literally all across the page while others are four-line blocks of text) to their contents, the entire collection just felt off to me, and not in a good way. According to the blurb, the poems within are all based on five fictional and real-life Wendys, such as Wendy Torrance from Stephen King’s The Shining, and the poems themselves within each section, with one section per Wendy, are supposed to be taken as one extended elegy to a mother White never knew, whose name was also Wendy. The various poems are labeled as being explorations of grief and loss in the face of the seeming contradiction of the death of a mother who the author never knew personally, but they just don’t work for me. And that’s all right—I don’t think I’m the intended audience, quite honestly. But, at the same time, I wasn’t impressed with the collection. Lines such as ‘If I could keep one / eyelash in a glass box / in my mouth— / If I could say one thing / I could bear, in a language / made of air,’ found in the poem ‘The Guide,’ just come off as sounding absurd, melodramatic, and contain little to no substance.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars


Favorite Poem: ‘The Hunted’

The wolf is not real anymore.

God is not real.

Take my hand, the song goes,

And walk with me.

No, to be alone

Is better, to love the world

But not someone.

Better to say

to oneself, Walk

With me.

Better to be

two-headed, to ask and reply, to die

when she dies.

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