Review of “Medusa’s Daughter” by Jane Rosenberg LaForge
In her third full length poetry collection Jane Rosenberg LaForge explores the intricate relations between her mother and herself and how it percolates in her upbringing. She compares and contrasts her mother’s legacy with the legend of the Medusa, the Greek gorgon.In this riveting collection, the poet examines the life and legacy of her mother as she struggles through her bouts of mania and depression and the lasting impact it left on Jane’s life. Jane poses a much proverbial truth to her readers that, Can the inheritance be used as a template?. Do we have the freedom to accept or discard it? The authors also examine the relationship of convenience and the complexity of the marriage between her father and the mother and how it seeped unknowingly in her childhood.Through her masterful brilliance of words Jane paints a breathtaking picture of the intricacies of relationships, and the need of acceptance coupled with hunger,which grows out of it.
Through a collection of powerful and necessary poems spread across this book, the poet examines the reeking presence of the patriarchy and the misogynistic effect of it on her mother life.In Medusa’s speech, She also exposes the patriarchal nature of society through these powerful closing lines
“You can always blame the victim until the science comes out.
Then it’s too late
to rehabilitate the specimen.”
The following collection of her poems specially The Birth of Medusa/Skin and Culture/Horses/Pygmalion– which draws a sharp contrast with the statue a sculptor fall in love with her father’s victim-blaming sharp attitude of her mother’s various physical and mental ailments.In Medusa Reduced, the poet examines her mother’s struggle to balance her life between the expectation of her father falling business due to his sickness and the household chores.
her skin like a prison
beginning at the elbows
and shins; if stone could grow
like cataracts or bark”
In the poem “Medusa’s Crime and Punishment” through various strong lines like bevy of personalities for a cacophony of demands.” The poet draws the juxtaposition of her mother’s emotions with her expectations and her struggles through life.In Medusa’s dictionary, the poet strongly examines the patriarchal and the misogynistic culture thriving for generations. Bringing it to surface through various brilliant and raw lines like
“Say you survive a rape, a crude verbal revision—
then it must not have been brutal enough. Perhaps
you wanted it. Perhaps you could not run away,
on your distorted feet, wrapped and tangled
This brings out the crude culture of slut-shaming and victim-blaming.
Poem Medusa Mason explores the limitless strength and capacity of women when given the proper chance and opportunity through the lines
“ Better to fail in private, where it can be adjudicated
by spouses and psychiatrists ad infinitum, in extremis.
But it is just another failure added onto the pile”
This shows the toxic societal norms and gender based discrimination.
Poet’s Mother and Daughter relations has been deeply explored throughout multiple poems in this strong and must read collection.Few of the poem which I would like to highlight are Jungle Red, which is an exploration of the relationship between her mother its damaging effect on her childhood leaving the author with questions intermixed with a curiosity of it being passed to the next generation.Some other notable poem in the collection are Nostalgia where the feverish attempt to connect to her emotions through ideas of self-harm.Animal- The lack of acknowledgment and her failure to connect with her mother at a deeper level was painfully expressed through the closing lines of this poem.When Medusa was beautiful tries to scratch the surface of her mother’s stern nature trying to explore the origins of her motherly nature.
The lasting impact of her mother’s relationship, how it shapes and affects her own relationship with her daughter, has been explored through the following set of poems.
The optics ,Optics II, Nursing and Nursing II .Masterful brilliance of Jane’s wordplay can be easily seen in the following poems
Medusa in Death
“Whatever she sees turns
to silence, the language
of planets across space,
time and other disadvantages;”
and critics, there should be perfection
and not this ringing silence.”
Through the poem “A year’s time “ Rosen’s grief rises to the surface to be shared amongst her readers. The morning which continues even after a year of her mother’s passing.The various ways grief molds and morphs her life has been brilliantly expressed through this poem.
Some other stronger poems in the collections which are a deep exposition of the struggles between the author’s mother and her own life includes If Water Were Religion, Some Doubts, and a Reprisal, My Mother’s Japanese Wall Hanging, Medusa’s Erased /Medusa’s daughter.Through the final poem in the collection, Medusa’s Grandbaby, Jane closes the collection with a homage to her mother and her curiosity of her child sharing the attributes with her grandmother.
“Bruises show most
where the blood
must go, surfaces
and vessels stretched
to their limit, beyond
give and flow, love
in a household
made manic by
light and molecules”
—And the wish you could conceal your daughter’s more perfect childhood.
I would strongly encourage the readers to buy this riveting collection.