New-Hampshire-based poet Amanda Lou Doster’s first chapbook Everything Begins Somewhere is a gentle yet ambitious journey across the poet’s life. The first poem, “Actually,” sets in motion the idea of loss mixed with returning home, a theme which threads throughout the chapbook. Doster writes:
here, have this poem which all my life I thought
would be big enough for the languages and the countries
and the drugs, but which is really just a basket
woven from hay. Fragile stuff from the farm
I never thought I’d live on, but where it turns out I do.
The poems that reference children or motherhood paint stark pictures of the experience. In “A mother dreams of more babies” Doster writes:
In my friend’s belly grow tiny teeth,
perfect little knives. She says
they’re eating her alive.
One of the most vivid and raw poems in the collection is “You are expected to be more decorous than linoleum.” Doster writes:
It is unseemly to wash your hair in snowmelt. Impolite to discuss
your lover with your husband, but since you asked
in sixty-four years we will dissolve. All of us.
The themes of loss and quiet self-destruction play heavily throughout the poems, but the last poem “Next time I’ll ask someone else” hints at self-acceptance with the final line “I can collect everything / inside that green trunk—some vintage clothes, / paisley, and other lapses in judgement.”
This chapbook was published by Slate Roof Press, a unique member-run letterpress based in Massachusetts. New poets are selected through their annual contests and spend the next three years a member of the press learning and helping to produce their own title.
Everything Begins Somewhere by Amanda Lou Doster. Slate Roof Press, 2020.
Reviewer bio: Stephanie Katz is a librarian with the Manatee Libraries and editor in chief of award-winning litmag 805 Lit + Art. She was selected as a Library Journal 2020 Mover & Shaker and is the author of Libraries Publish: How to Start a Magazine, Small Press, Blog, and More. She blogs about creative library publishing at LiteraryLibraries.org.