Many thanks to Murry Thomas for finding someone I did not know to review the book, and super thanks to Nancy Shiffrin for reviewing The Truck Driver’s Daughter. Read it below, or see it on the actual website! Then make my publisher happy and buy it here or here
The Truck Driver’s Daughter
Book by Denise Weuve
Reviewed by Nancy Shiffrin
Denise Weuve is not afraid. The hard craft of her poems displays her courage. Her themes are addiction, prostitution, lonely motherhood, mostly absent fathers. She wants to be the reason that AA doesn’t work. God is absent from this work, though still hoped for. The poems seem to point to a persona, but I can’t help thinking that most must be autobiographical or very close to Weuve’s personal reality. I love especially the way she describes her mother and grandmother in “When My Mother Danced.”
They were two women
who did not need permission
to pin their paisley dresses
above their knees, whisper
curse words, or dance in each other’s arms.
Weuve is without judgment of the sister who stops to score on the way to rehab and makes her an offer, “You want, it could be stronger.” The poem is called “Cycles” and the extended metaphor of counting days to rehab and counting days to menstruation becomes a recognition of shared experience.
Menstrual cramps are like the pains of withdrawal, her sister bleeds “the blood that is mine/still staining her hands.”
The effects of addiction, the loss of the father, the brother, the grandfather who hanged himself, the mother who tells the poet/daughter “No one will love you/Not without beating you” are graphically portrayed in a number of poems. “Human Anatomy Parts” is the most graphic. The kidney which belonged to an unknown Hispanic woman who might have died in a traffic accident, whose life she the poet can barely imagine, we guess is a real transplant. The liver soaked in vodka, the spleen enlarged, infected, become metaphors for all of the personal physiological losses brought on by alcoholism.
Is Weuve the daughter, the blessed female, who too often walks into the callous hands of men? There is so much hurt, disappointment, so many men who don’t notice when the woman has disappeared. I look for hope in Weuve’s words and don’t find it. I do find hope in the intensity of her talent, her ability to capture in intense figurative language an agony that is too visceral for existence. I recommend this book and look forward to the next one.