Pattie McCarthy


Sasha Steensen's 'House of Deer' & other domestic histories

"At home" is not a container but a site and an event.
—Sasha Steensen, "I Couldn't Stop Watching"

The family is the history of the species. The family is the history of love & place & force & naming. The family is a history of home— & if home is both "a site and an event," then the family is a history of what happens. In physics, an "event" is a single occurence of a process, a point in spacetime. When & where, & also how the family moves through, how it is moved by history & how it moves history. The family is expansive— if "at home" is not a container, then the family need not (can not) be contained. In the poem "Election Day" in Sasha Steensen's new book House of Deer she writes, "There are children to clothe and dishes to do, and it's just not / the kind of poem where everything belongs." What kind of poem is the kind of poem where everything— including the clothing of children & the doing of dishes— belongs? I think House of Deer is exactly the kind of capacious poem where this everything belongs.

Ryan Eckes' 'Valu-Plus' & other domestic boxes

Valu-Plus, photo by Ryan Eckes

Ryan Eckes’ first book, Old News (Furniture Press, 2011), is saturated with Philadelphia, Eckes’ hometown, but it also revolves around his domicile. The speaker & his wife buy a house & begin renovating :

we tore up the rotten carpets and the mats underneath, which were
stapled to the old pine floor from the days before carpets, and found
newspapers from 1923 spread across the room. some
Inquirer, some Evening Bulletin. some 1923 in some 2007. (“odd years”) 

Behind my own desk at home hangs the front page of the Wednesday 13 September 1939 Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger that I found under the carpet of my house in South Philly. Its headline: POLISH ATTACK TRAPS NAZIS.