Sway This Way : Monozygotic | Codependent by Stephanie Bryant Anderson : Review


Monozygotic | Codependent by Stephanie Bryant Anderson
72 pgs | Blue Hour Press, 2015


Stephanie Bryant Anderson’s book, Monozygotic | Codependent opens with a quote from Sylvia Plath:

“I do not know who I am, where I am going – and I am the one who has to decide the answers to these hideous questions.”

These poems encourage us to accept that we will find more than one answer to these questions and we can change our answers over and over again. These answers are not set in stone because we’re not stagnant, we grow and change and so should the questions and answers we ask and find of ourselves.

Monozygotic

\ˌmä-nə-zī-ˈgä-tik\
adjective
(of twins) derived from a single ovum, and so identical.

Codependent

Codependent relationships are a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.

Three things floated through my mind as I read this book:

The first line out of Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina:

“The day I was born started out bad, and it only got worse.”

A song from the Far From Any Road playlist:

“Mama, can you hear the devil?”

and how many people have told me:

“You bring your family in here with you. You’re here and I can feel them in here with us too.”

I’m going to tell you I read this at work and it just made me jump out of my chair and do quite a bit of praise hand (there are many different ways to do a praise hand, this one involved me reaching out towards my computer screen as if I could communicate through my fingertips the amount of yes and bless my heart found in these words).

The book rounds out perfectly starting with “Loneliness Came Inside My Home, Unpacked It Things” ending with “Sometimes I Pack my Things and Leave.”

It makes you think that loneliness isn’t something that vacations, it’s something that makes a home of you and even when you make your mind to leave it, it doesn’t mean it will leave you, just like family. Maybe loneliness is something your family makes in you.

There are a lot of poems I read that talk about the struggle with family but they can move on to other topics. I can’t run away from my family, I’ve tried and I always end up right back on the Welcome Home mat. I’ve always felt it’s made me a failure but this book doesn’t make me feel like that: it makes me think that a lot of the things I’m looking for lie in the broken stove in my grandparents’ kitchen, the lock that leads to the basement we used to hide in, in the stories that we tell over and over. This book of poetry makes me think that maybe it’s not a failure to find pieces of my family lining my laughter, tripping over their regrets whenever I become the person I need to be, or waking up in the middle of the night to find their ghosts staring at me.


Monozygotic | Codependent is a perfect bound, soft cover poetry book written by Stephanie Bryant Anderson. She is the founder of Red Paint Hill Publishing. She has worked also as editor with Up the Staircase Quarterly, Inkception Books, and she served on the Editorial Board for The Manatee, Southern New Hampshire University’s literary journal. Nominated for Best of the Net, storySouth Million Writers Award, and twice for the Pushcart Prize, Stephanie is the mother to two amazing boys. Besides poetry she enjoys kickboxing and math.


Contributing Editor

Alexis Smithers is a twenty one year old explosion of messes. They are queer black writer that was published in a book about how horses heal (Wild at Heart by Heather Kirby), and has work that can be found on theEEEL. Fun facts: they tied a pillowcase to their back and tried to fly after seeing Sky High, their mantra can be found in Wreck-It Ralph, The Babadook, or Orphan Black (depending on the day) and they’re terrified of mostly everything but art makes the fear easier to hold.