A Brilliant Loss

Red Hen. Oct. 2022. 64p. ISBN 9781636280615. pap. $14.95. POETRY
It is difficult for anyone to imagine the loss of language, the loss of naming, the loss of words and even more difficult to imagine a writer coping with such loss. In her latest collection (after Another Phase), Healy, the first poet laureate of Los Angeles and a Lambda and Audre Lorde finalist, tells of her journey through aphasia to reclaiming language and herself. At one point, she wonders, “Did aphasia happen to me/ for me?” while elsewhere exclaiming “I cry sometimes/ because I remember/ I had lost my name./ I mean, my words.” Through the dedicated help of her speech therapist and the devoted love of her partner, Healy slowly regains some of what had vanished to truly know herself again. The poems here are small but powerful, moving slowly from one triumph to another and driven by a profound love: “I had to learn to remember/ I had always loved you.”
VERDICT A beautiful and accessible meditation on language and self, the very core of poetry, that will appeal to a wide range of readers.
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