The poems in Katie Ford’s fourth collection implore their audience―the divine and the human―for attention, for revelation, and, perhaps above all, for companionship. The extraordinary sequence at the heart of this book taps into the radical power of the sonnet form, bending it into a kind of metaphysical and psychological outcry.
To convey her overwhelming sense of loss about the dissolution of her marriage, Katie Ford presents a strange, almost fairy-tale realm ... At first, the grief feels profoundly physical ... Yet as the narrative unfolds, in 39 sonnets, readers are led through a kingdom that includes a cold, distant lord, beasts of burden and multiple rooms for those who are stuck there. This landscape allows the speaker to slowly work through her feelings—from despondency...to equanimity ... The journey also serves as a quest of sorts as her shattered sense of self slowly begins to mend.
The extraordinary sequence at the heart of this book taps into the radical power of the sonnet form, bending it into a kind of metaphysical and psychological outcry. Beginning in the cramped space of selfhood―in the bedroom, cluttered with doubts, and in the throes of marital loss―these poems edge toward the clarity of 'what I can know and admit to knowing.' In Song and in Silence, Ford inhabits the rooms of anguish and redemption with scouring exactness. This is poetry that 'can break open, // it can break your life, it will break you // until you remain.'
There’s a shadow looming over If You Have to Go—the poignantly titled and brilliant collection of poetry from Katie Ford—and it’s the dissolution of Ford’s marriage. Each poem within the collection is either softly shaded by the event or completely subsumed in its darkness ... Even if you have never been through the trials of a divorce, or even a serious heartbreak, those lines still thrum a chord deep within.