Reviewed by BLYTHE BAIRD
Sierra DeMulder reflects on recovering from the trauma of an abusive relationship in We Slept Here with stunning yet jarring imagery. This collection never flinches from how brutal the path to healing can be and serves as an anthem of reclamation for survivors.
The first poem in the book, titled “And if I Am to Forgive You,” opens with a question that speaks volumes to the themes the author will address: “Who am I/ if I am not/ the aftertaste/ of abuse?” (3) DeMulder integrates precise and graceful imagery into what she’s learned about herself and others into the brave recollection of her experiences. The characters in her life are multifaceted, vibrant, and authentic, and she has analyzed her surroundings to paint a viewpoint through vivid snapshots:
At first, I imagined addiction
as your finest suit, hung in
the closet, ironed in the dark.
Now I see you had
no other option, not even
your own skin, no summer
jacket or wool coat, only this
For being only forty-four pages long, We Slept Here doesn’t struggle to pack a punch. Raw, vulnerable, and reflective, We Slept Here haunts readers in a way that will make them want to carry this book around everywhere. If you are looking for a book to remind you of the brilliant resilience you are capable of, this one will not disappoint. DeMulder’s vulnerability allows others to be vulnerable, while her openness on her own healing encourages others to heal, and at the end of the book, she even includes a helpful variety of resources for assault and abuse victims.
We Slept Here is a hard hitting and crucial contribution to modern poetry. DeMulder does not make a symphony out of suffering. She explores the anatomy the recovery process, and it is hard not to root for her and marvel at her compassion and endless strength. Writing with a keen understanding of her past, DeMulder acknowledges yet transcends the effect her history of abuse has on her ability to trust a new relationship: “I am my own higher power,” she writes. “I will carry myself out.”
Meet the blogger:
BLYTHE BAIRD is an internationally known spoken word poet. Her viral work has been featured by The Huffington Post, Ashton Kutcher, Write Bloody, Button Poetry, Mic, Bustle, and more. In 2014, Baird was the youngest competitor at the National Poetry Slam. By 2016, Baird was recognized as a top finalist for the Global Young Achiever Award. Her first book GIVE ME A GOD I CAN RELATE TO is a pushcart prize nominee.