Fremantle Arts Centre Press, $16.95
The image of the woman imprisoned in a tower is recurrent in Dorothy Hewett’s work. In the early poem, ‘Grave Fairytale’, Hewett refashions the figure of Rapunzel to signify the woman poet whose writing depends on isolation and the suppression of her sexuality.
This emblem is problematic for, although choosing her own exile, the woman writer is still imprisoned. Images of entrapment – by family, by desire – proliferate in Hewett’s writing. It is as if the poet is engaged in a battle with precisely those things that sustain her art.
The imprisoned woman also appears in Hewett’s latest collection, Peninsula. In ‘Lines to the Dark Tower’, she is alone ‘blindly spinning / almost out of breath’ and plagued by memories of love. She dreams her death, a transcendent moment during which the soul ‘in the great bowl of the night / is lifted up/and made whole’.