‘then winter’ by Chloe Honum ।। Review: Munira Chowdhury

                                                                     THEN WINTER

                                                                             Chloe Honum

                                                             Review by Munira Chowdhury

Poetry are like mirror images to meet yourself…

Poetry’s task is to reconcile us to the world — not to accept it at face value or to assent to things that are wrong, but to reconcile one in a larger sense, to return us in love, the province of the imagination, to the scope of our mortal lives.


The majority of poets survive major tragedies and write about their hardships. However, we know that Aristotle also wrote a treatise on comedy that has been lost. He defines poetry as the mimetic or imitative, use of language, rhythm, harmony, separately or in combination.

Poetry is souls of music, something divine, It is at the center and circumference of knowledge; Poetry in my view is the language of the soul demonstrating the most intimate feelings which the tongue cannot articulate. You do not need to be a professor, academic, intellect or a scholar to write poetry, as I believe it is intangible,

just like strong emotions such as hate or love. Famous poets such as Bangladeshi “Kaji Nazrul Islam and Shah Abdul karim”.

American Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson have written beautiful poems whom have no academic background, and there are many more like them.

It is as the scent and the colour of the flowers to the texture of the elements which compose it, as the form and splendor of unfaded beauty to the secrets of anatomy and corruption.


Elements of poetry

imagery | diction | sound | metaphor | theme | saying something new Six elements of poetry

But, my thoughts, no matter how long or short, imagery | diction | sound | metaphor | theme | saying something new these create a great poem which still holds great emotion…

THEN WINTER. Chloe Honum’s description and portrayal of the winter environment, was so captivating, that I felt like I was in a snowy storm…

The series of breathtaking poems about the winter environment and her use of language shows the caliber of her skills.

As the poem begins, “We have only one subject/but many different variations:” of snow, and then, Mueller proceeds to label a lexical set of winter conditions. The use of language is so precise and elegantly honed, with such stark, unsentimental similes.


THEN WINTER, traces one speaker’s journey in a psychiatric treatment facility. Faced with the threat of a loss of voice, a silence that consumes and buries her, she turns to the natural world, beyond windows of the ward. The trees, the rain, the birds–these commonplace things become tethering forces of primal, hope-giving importance. As she forms bonds with her fellow patients, some of whom become her unlikely confidants. She discovers the substantial power of connection and hope.

Then winter is a slim chapbook – 25 pages, thin enough for a quick read yet, full with transcendental meaning – and yet she manages to make each poem perfect, precise … Every single word clear like a snow flake.

This poems is a perfect example of the power of what is said and the power of what is not said. Chloe Honum is a poet of remarkable skill and range.

From the above poem, it comes across to me as if something unpleasant and unfortunate has occurred in her past life, perhaps during her childhood, which still sits deep within herself. I feel maybe she expresses those suppressed emotions through her poetry conveying her inner most feelings. She exhibits a soul which is remnant with her no matter where she takes her journey. It’s almost as if it is mixed with her blood.



The Angel

On the eve of my thirteenth birthday, I found her in an alley. Her wings were crossed at violent angles. She was naked and her bruises were so bright that I ran my finger along them to check if the skin was broken. I bathed and clothed her. The garment fell apart on her body, like silk floating down and severing itself on a sword. Since then, she has gone everywhere with me. Occasionally, people see her and startle. They ask her if she’s all right, but she speaks only to me, as if I were the translator of her ancient, mottled language.


 Some of these questions permeates all the poems in Honum’s significant work. To read these poems is like singing the chorus of the greatest song ever written.

They ache with the pain of misremembering, that liminal space between immediate sense and oblivion. They do not presume to have the answers to the questions that they ask, but they leave the reader with impressions which aid in their own pursuit of clarity, poetry should define meaning and clarity through the eyes of the reader. Therefore, if one looks through rose coloured glasses that is acceptable as well the one who takes grim or a bleak view of the writing. It is not a question of right or wrong, it’s about how one perceives things. Whatever the reader absorbs is an inner reflection of oneself as poems should. Poetry shouldn’t mean but be.


                                    Late Afternoon in the Psychiatric Ward


                                   The fluorescent light
                                   goes off and the shadows
                                   fall apart like a cardboard fort.

                                   The invisible should be sturdier,
                                   like that stormy summer
                                   the rain came so heavy

                                   the waterfall was just
                                   a thicker column of sky.
                                   Now a fly throws itself

                                   down on the formica table
                                   and buzzes and spins
                                   on its back, quickening

                                   the poison. It resembles
                                   a word scribbled out.
                                   Won’t do, won’t do.

                                   But oh you of the river-
                                   wet lips, I miss you
                                   this moment, and this.




Chloe Honum was raised in Auckland, New Zealand. She is the author of The Tulip-Flame, selected by Tracy K. Smith for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize. The Tulip-Flame was named a finalist for the 2015 PEN Center USA Literary Award, and won the 2014 Foreword Book of the Year Award and a Texas Institute of Letters Award. Honum’s poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Paris Review, Orion, and elsewhere, and she has received a Ruth Lilly Fellowship and a Pushcart Prize. She is an assistant professor of English at Baylor University.



Munira Chowdhury


Director, Bangla Academy, UK

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