Book Review: “She’d Waited Millennia” by Lizzie Hutton

Quiet and circumspect, She’d Waited Millennia is a lovely collection of poetry by Lizzie Hutton.

book cover of She'd Waited Millennia: Poems by Lizzie HuttonI’ll admit that I read this book a few months ago. I don’t know why I’ve taken this long to think about it before starting a review, but sometimes I become self-conscious of my poetry analyzation. Over the past year, I’ve made sure to incorporate more poetry into my reading queue, particularly contemporary poetry, since I’ve the suspicion it doesn’t receive adequate love outside of the graduate classroom. Still, I’m no authority; I only know to what I respond. While not every poem resonated with me, I still found the book quite satisfying.

Dark city apartment, high above the city,
with a boy I couldn’t keep my eyes off of: I had
such a black, melting, intent, girlish greed, I wanted
– from “High City”

I know that girlish greed, and also the later “love gone cool and sullen.

Reading poetry before bed, I’ve found to be very meditative. Even when I read a novel, my mind will still wander here and there, but to really absorb a poem, I have to focus. Maybe it’s my persistent fight against brain fog that makes it so, but I have to train myself. Yet when my reading is going well, when the poems are captivating, sleep becomes surprisingly restful.

Fence tangle, open page
of little efforts. So zenned out,
– from “Bluestocking”

Hutton writes about nature – plants, yes, but sex and motherhood, too. The speaker – for let’s not fall into the assumption-trap of voice equaling poet – longs for the child that takes so long to come. She thinks of her own childhood, her young adulthood, the men she has loved, and:

I’d tried to calm
wanting a child. But calm meant nothing
to its smeary

Fact, the body’s
full-leaved tree
that moved itself itself.
-from “Fugue”

The things that we want the most never really leave our minds. Sometimes we are able to ignore these desires, and sometimes we begrudgingly survive nonetheless, but sometimes happiness surprises us: “I’m pregnant and carrying a boy who’ll know nothing of this time but what I tell him.”

I love the succinct way Hutton creates images. I see the wiry muscles, the flowering yards, and swirling nights out. We feel the speaker’s yearning throughout, her desire to bring just a bit more (yet so much more) life into the world. This boy, her boy. Her descriptions of motherhood and marriage, while they do not necessarily resemble my own, feel very real.

I do not have the adequate vocabulary to comment much on her form, spacing or otherwise, except to say that none of it feels awkward. The ways the words are laid on the page do not draw much attention, so it would seem that the forms fit the poems. A more studious reader of poetry could perhaps tell you why.

Lizzie Hutton was not a name I recognized when I picked up this book, but the title caught my attention. She’d Waited Millennia – Yes, I wanted to know for what. This is her first book, published in 2011, and I look forward to the ping of recognition when I see her name again.

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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