One of the significant themes in contemporary poetry is identity – with an open-ended definition of that word. Poets young and old are exploring what identity is, using their own lives as a prism. The recent National Book Award winner Indecency by Justin Phillip Reed is one example. The poetry of British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffyi s another.
British poet Phoebe Power, in her first collection Shrines of Upper Austria, explores a different facet of identity, and that’s an individual’s understanding of national identity. The collection received the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
Power’s starting point is her grandmother, who arrived in England as a new bride married to a British soldier in 1946. Her grandmother was an ethnic German from Austria, which just the year before had been part of Nazi Germany. Imagine her British neighbors, and her new British family. Imagine what she had left behind. The experiences and heritage of her grandmother becomes Power’s by family inheritance.
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.