Although Colleen Higgs has been writing and publishing individual poems for many years, Halfborn Woman (Hands-on Books, 2004) is her first collection. The title, taken from Adrienne Rich’s poem “Upper Broadway” (in The Dream of a Common Language), an extract of which also serves as an epigraph to this collection, suggests the central theme of this book: a woman’s search for identity and the development of a whole self. This search is enacted through a poetic reflection and examination of her relationships, both familial and intimate.
In Halfborn Woman, Higgs’s project is thus an autobiographical one, as the opening poem of the collection, “autobiography”, makes explicit. In this poem, Higgs confesses that “[she] like[s] to turn back/ it’s a compulsion/ to look back with longing and regret”, and because she’s “been a writer since [she] was eight”, she “turn[s] back” in the form of writing (13). But despite her writing about “absence, loss, grief” which “ink[s]” these emotions and experiences “into [her] cells”, there is still a “relief [in] writing”, in being able “finally to speak the unspeakable/ exposing its pale naked tendrils” (13).
- Halfborn Women by Colleen Higgs
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