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Stemp, S. (2019). Review of Bone Shop of the Heart: Poems of Memory and Desire: by Eugene Mahon. New York, NY: International Psychoanalytic Books, 2017. 114 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 55(3):297-305.

(2019). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 55(3):297-305

Book Reviews

Review of Bone Shop of the Heart: Poems of Memory and Desire: by Eugene Mahon. New York, NY: International Psychoanalytic Books, 2017. 114 pp.

Sarah Stemp, Ph.D.

In this compressed, complex hymn to both poetry and psychoanalysis, psychoanalyst and poet Eugene Mahon enacts with us, his readers, the processes about which he writes, and creates for us (in us) an experience of the sacred. What happens between analyst and patient is holy for Mahon, and bears some resemblance to what can happen between poet and reader. In artful sonnets and lyrical free verse, through use of rich imagery and metaphor, and alliteration, assonance, and rhyme, Mahon does his magic with us. In this gem of a collection he takes on psychoanalysis, loss, love, memory, his Irish childhood, the natural world, and a host of poets and other artist-heroes whom he admires. But no matter what Mahon the poet is writing about, his attention to embodied experience, his associational style—the carrying of elements from one realm into another (i.e., metaphor)—and his affinity for dream-language and dream-images affect and infect the reader with the experience of what a psychoanalytic session can feel like. Here is Mahon capturing, for me, some of the overlap between poetry and psychoanalysis (although he doesn’t announce that this is his intention): “…thoughts call/Out to other thoughts and pull asunder/Certainties” (“Sonnet for A New Year,” p. 78), and “Restless things that won’t be known/Until they change into/Something they are not/The better to know what they are” (“Poetry,” p. 68).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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