The classic lyric preoccupation with interiority, and how internal life touches and changes the outside world, finds expression in two recent collections of poetry: Fiona Wright’s Domestic Interior and Carolyn Abbs’s The Tiny Museums. In both collections, the speakers draw the shapes of their internal furniture, while building monuments to the intimate scenes and common spaces that define them.
The poems in Wright’s book have a confessional intensity, even if the particularities of the confession are mostly left off the page. While still in her thirties, Wright became an award-winning memoirist for a collection of essays probing the metaphysics of hunger. Self-analysing and revelatory, the essays in Small Acts of Disappearance (2015) do not shy away from the details of private shame and struggle. The poems in Domestic Interior were written around the same time; they are strong in feeling and light on narrative. Biographical details, and the triggering context of the speakers’ sorrow and heaviness, are rarely explicit. The poet instead describes with consummate skill the textural particularities of the touched and tasted world: the ‘pelts of peaches’ and the ‘lukewarm wheatgrass’, sampled while walking ‘past the bakery / where all the bread is cheesed and lurid’. The vulgar suburb-scape is finely observed and vividly described in terms of how it feels against the body.