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This review is taken from PN Review 269, Volume 49 Number 3, January - February 2023.

Cover of All the Men I Never Married
Rebecca GossAll the Men I Never Married, Kim Moore, Seren, 2022; What the Trumpet Taught Me, Kim Moore, smith/doorstop, 2022
Boys and Brass

All the Men I Never Married, Kim Moore’s bold and arresting new book, is punctuated with silence. The opening poem, inspired by Hélène Cixous’s The Laugh of the Medusa, both unsettles and rouses with its key line ‘we’re carrying all that we know about silence’. It is soon clear that Moore’s second collection will be about claiming female experience and, importantly, claiming the act of writing that experience down. Moore’s poems examine silence and the pervading belief that ‘nothing happened’ when, in fact, the opposite is true. The ephemeral brush of a man’s knuckle against a young girl’s thigh is a ‘moment… hardly worth telling’ yet is, in fact, an uninvited touch that lingers far into womanhood. We are asked to imagine ‘waking into silence’ as did the woman after suffering a sexual assault. Another woman stands ‘angry and silent’ as she watches her sister return to a violent relationship. A phone is answered ‘with silence’ to vdeal with a man’s relentless and unwelcome calls. Very occasionally, the turn to silence can feel like an easy place to fall back on (we come across the word frequently), but silence is doing so much and ultimately Moore is breaking the silence for us: ‘You cannot touch me when I’m speaking’.

Moore’s collection eschews titles and instead numbers the poems 1 to 48. Never does this feel like a definitive list. Nor does this numbering feel linear, or predictable, or even make us see the poems as explicitly autobiographical. But this is not a catalogue of incidents that render the female ...

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