Still Life with Mother and Knife
winner of the 2020 Eric Hoffer Book Award in Poetry
In her third collection, Still Life with Mother and Knife, Chelsea Rathburn seeks to voice matters once deemed unspeakable, from collisions between children and predators to the realities of postpartum depression. Still Life with Mother and Knife considers the female body, “mute and posable,” as object of both art and violence. Once an artist’s model, now a mother, Rathburn knows “how hard / it is to be held in the eyes of another.”
Intimate and fearless, her poems move in interlocking sections between the pleasures and dangers of childhood, between masterpieces of art and magazine centerfolds, and―in a gripping sequence in dialogue with Eugene Delacroix’s paintings and sketches of Medea (Delacroix’s Médée Furieuse is pictured at right)—between maternal love and rage. With singular vision and potent poetic form, Rathburn crafts a complex portrait of girlhood and motherhood from which it is impossible to look away.
Poems from the book have appeared or are forthcoming in the Missouri Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, the Southern Review, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, and other journals.
Still Life with Mother and Knife, a New York Times “New & Noteworthy” book, was released in February 2019 by Louisiana State University Press.