Human Rights Quarterly Review

"The voice of these poems is sometimes purely lyrical; at other times adopts a spiritual persona that ranges from directive to demanding, as the book's title suggests... [Transcending] spiritual gendering, Newbrough draws on both patriarchal religious systems... and woman-centered theology, including the voice of feminine power found in the Gnostic Gospel known as "Thunder, Perfect Mind". Mediterranean and African mythology, as well as tarot cards, also factor into the mix. The title poem offers a sampling of these concerns. Given that "archetype" has its origins in Jungian psychology and a male-dominated twentieth century literary criticism, Newbrough's effort to create a gender-free "entity" that resembles the Russian ballet dancer Nijinsky ("it / gazes intermittently from me / to the watch on its wrist") offers an alternative to patriarchal religious discourse and its polar opposite, although its accompanying illustration, the collage "Archetype," looks more feminine than gender neutral. The archetype "strikes back" by defining itself on its own terms, free of "theory," "doctrine," "proof," and "reason … / at the beginning of thought." Elsewhere in the book there is a strong urge toward feminist theology. "Gaian Eulogy" drops neutrality, opening with "Mother, you are a great witch murdered"; later the "Soul of earth" that will "rise again" from destruction. In its metamorphosis we find "Gone, the skeleton of man, who never / Set aside greed and war to found a common land." Near the end of the volume, "Pieta: Mass to God The Mother" provides another example.
...[Her most] overtly political poem, dating from 1973, is "Lavender Menace." Its collective "I" being the voice of lesbian experience throughout history. The voice chronicles abuse: "I am written in the margin / An historical aberration"; "I am found in the pogrom"; "I am found in the forest of suicides"; "Some say / I am the mutant strain; The memory of future' Is coded in my brain"
...Newbrough exercises her right to explore spiritual matters from a number of perspectives. In addition to spirituality, the poems address ecofeminism, science, math, nature, art, love, the death of loved ones, and finally the subject of poetry itself, and poets.
...Reading this book [leads one] to consider the boundaries of what that aesthetic might be."
Rhonda Petit
Project Muse
Human Rights Quarterly
Volume 33, Number 3, August 2011 pp. 906-908

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