The poems of Witch Wife are spells, obsessive incantations to exorcise or celebrate memory, to mourn the beloved dead, to conjure children or keep them at bay, to faithfully inhabit one's given body. They are also concerned with dismantling received ideas about contemporary American womanhood. What does it mean to be a wife or mother who feels ambivalent about motherhood? How are these roles further complicated for women of color in the United States?
Petrosino’s third collection does unfold much like a magic-tinged fever dream, traversing forests, 'fairy house[s],' and the 'war zone' of the body to conjure up mothers and wives, daughters and ghosts. Delivering intoxicating variations on the sestina and villanelle, Petrosino employs repetition to spectacular effect ... In Petrosino’s singular world, the familiar becomes strange, and the strange, suddenly irresistible, settles deep in the bones. Sparkling with sly wordplay and fantastical imagery, these are not only masterful poems but mighty incantations. Utterly spellbinding.
This elemental image of fertility and the body overtaken recurs in the different ways in the collection. Through stunning use of repetitive form and language that ranges from ordinary to electrically strange, Petrosino shows both the mind and body at work and the fraught relations between the two ... Witch Wife contains a whopping eighteen villanelles, mostly unrhymed and sometimes altered, as well as prose poems, a sestina, a ghazal, and a pantoum. Rather than final or enclosed, the repetition here feels wild, infinite, becoming ... Witch Wife’s magic is that it creates a world in its pages—one that believably co-exists with our mundane world, but that carries the possibility of a life in more dimensions. Here the fears that linger below the surfaces of our lives bloom into colorful, glittering places we can enter. In seeing these fears and horrors in full bloom, we can live with them a little better.
In the collection of poems, we are taken along a rhythmic journey sowed with conduplicatos, diacopes, and expressive songs. The autobiographical collection mixes pagan, mythical, and pop-culture metaphors to show the mundane and banal as well as the most intimate ... Hard to place in a category or genre, the poems, which are all dedicatedly fashioned, range from strictly measured to free verse. While some poems convey passion and sense of refugee, some fall victim to stereotypical notions of womanhood or love failure ... One of Petrosino’s biggest successes in Witch Wife is the balance between the mundane and the mystical ... Petrosino manages to use both everyday and storybook images to express these. However, even if very intimate, there is a distance in Petrosino’s work that can both fascinate or demotivate the reader: we never seem to trespass the notion of observer, of reader. Perhaps the distance is because the poet, albeit in a lyrical and elegant way, decides to use a stereotypical map to navigate through what being a woman means.