Reading Catherine Owen's Designated Mourner is uncomfortable and feels wrong. Elegies for a deceased spouse, Owen's poems are discomforting in the truest sense.
This raw, exposed emotion is doubly impressive due to the actual polish of the poems on the craft level.
Owen oscillates between simple, stark expressiveness (“We were so perfect / at the Safeway”) and ornate imagery (“the dead have entered me and suddenly I am many crows / in one crow, feasting on the beautiful dropped prey of this hawk-life”).
“I want to stop writing poems for you now,” writes Owen, and the collection thus comes to operate like the designated mourner of its title, continuing to cry after it closes.