A Woman of Property is a study of the imagination’s darker powers and their daily, domestic insurrections. American poets have long sought to harvest symbols from ordinary life, from its drone satisfactions and shallow-end letdowns. Inspiration may be like finding the light switch in a darkened room, but Schiff’s poems—caged, skittish, aghast at their own force—more often attempt to dim the glare of an imagination that’s a little too trenchant.
The long, dense poems of her third book snake their way through the anxieties of new motherhood in the age of terror and rampant viruses ('my thermometer is digital and pink/ and its beep is my name/ being read from the book of life'), the buying of baby furniture, how 'Everyone has a cousin Benjamin Bunny,' and the trials of suburban neighborliness. It sounds tame, but it's not. Schiff can wake the ordinary, making it alien and widely alive, with the subtlest flick of a word.
...constant worry gives rise to constant pleasure in these fidgety, hyperintelligent poems. They swivel and leap from topic to topic, delighting in uncommon facts and far-fetched analogies ... Schiff can be overwhelmingly, distressfully critical, of herself and others. She can also be deadpan, or wryly funny.