May 10, 2009

Review by Anne McDuffie

A WHEEL Anthology

Whit Press
1634 Eleventh Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
ISBN 978-0-9720205-5-8
2007, 247 pp., $17.95

Beloved Community takes its title from Raymond Carver’s late poem, “Last Fragment”:

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

In this anthology, WHEEL—the Women’s Housing, Equality and Enhancement League— has assembled an impressive array of poems, culled from the chapbooks they publish annually. WHEEL is, by its own definition, a “scrappy little grassroots organizing effort of homeless and formerly homeless women in Seattle, Washington.” Some of the writers included in this collection have come through the classes WHEEL sponsors at day centers and through their StreetWrites program; some are workshop organizers and staff writers for Real Change, Seattle’s homeless newspaper. Their poems bring us the news from the “invisible side of the street,” as Anitra Freeman describes it in “In Memoriam,” a prose tribute to the members of WHEEL, and to all homeless women, who have died outside or by violence in King County.

There are gems here, some of them rough-edged and some of them flawed—but taken together, they dazzle. The strength of the collection is Continue reading

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