Review: We Take Me Apart by Molly Gaudry

We Take Me Apart by Molly Gaudry

“A kind in glass and a cousin, a spectacle and nothing strange” is the opening to Stein’s famous Tender Buttons. This cryptic fragment which begins the poem A Carafe, that is a blind glass, sets the tone for the collection and the reader, letting them know that the work holds a dual position: both spectacle and nothing strange. The decentering of the everyday and the radical exploration of the household embodies the Steinian spectacle, and this influence is clear in Molly Gaudry’s We Take Me Apart, which charts a life through scenes of household, work, cooking, dressmaking, blood, love, and art: the bleeding intimacies of life. Yet at the same time her work embodies flight, glass slippers, circus elephants, and oranges. Holding together the dress of her collection is a thread of fantasy. Using this mixed medium, Molly Gaudry constructs a poetic Bildungsroman of sorts: through the extraordinary that is rendered everyday, and an everyday that is rendered extraordinary, Gaudry guides us along the unlabeled gallery of life that is We Take Me Apart.


I said this not long ago for no reason except
that by taste with deliberation I meant hope and by
quiet mead I meant baby and by dimmer I meant
calm and by wetting I meant pink lips and by
around the edges I meant clamp mother’s breast

a revision


of what I want

which is to hope the way a baby becomes calm after
pink lips clamp mother’s breast

This is not to say her language is Steinian:  Like Stein Molly Gaudry is determined to play with her language, unlike Stein she writes in a clear-cut style. One that seamlessly moves between terse emotionally charged lines to breathless blocky stanzas. Her alternating, divided explorations of short lines and long stanzas creates a disparity which elevates each distinct part. The contrast renders her stanzas more expansive, and her short, separate lines more impactful.  The result is a work whose artistry grasps both beauty and genuine pain, and whose form bears the capacity for both: a wide emotional cocktail, whose bright recurring images fictionalize and mix the narratives of childhood, relationships, heartbreak and growth in an uninterrupted stream.

In an intoxicating flow of fantastical scenes, Molly Gaudry anchors us with her genuine emotion, and only once a poem is finished does one remember that the fairytale is no fairytale: she is writing an ordinary scene, a view behind the circus curtain, a heartbroken protagonist like any other, or perhaps just a simple hope. We Take Me Apart is the story of a woman trying to get by in a world whose vivid images are equally loving, cruel, and beautiful: the fantastical exploration of simply living and trying to get by.

Reviewed by Daniel Heslep