Josh Hess reviews “The Refrain” by Anne Whitehouse

by Anne Whitehouse


Anne Whitehouse moves us as she writes about her life, love, and personal experiences. She personally invites each reader to step into her shoes and experience life – but in a different way. Each of our senses tingle as we find ourselves reading further into The Refrain.

These poems are one big story — a life well-lived — as she writes about catastrophe and happiness, love and hate, life and death. She encourages the reader to become part of the story, be what you want to be. In the depths of this wonderful read, we find “After Irene”, a poem that expresses many lively feelings. At the end of the poem, Anne gives us hope to this terrible disaster:

We went about repairing the damage,
finding what was essential,
how to survive.

She can honestly touch the hearts of anyone, simply with her own words. I was astonished when I first talked to Anne. She had submitted “After Irene” to Decades Review for publication. Our editors found it, amidst other submissions, to be completely outstanding. I had e-mails sent to me from our readers, who asked me to tell Anne how touching her poem really was.

Anne portrays herself in each word. As if the words were simply meant to be in the order she places them — they beg, they ask her to piece together a puzzle, which soon transforms into a masterpiece. We see this masterpiece as we reflect upon the cruel and truthful words from “Meditations in June” — Anne exposes life, even from the view of others:

The world is a terrible place.
There’s no getting out alive,
Said my friend from his hospital bed.

As this truth pours out onto the table, as these words meet the eyes, I find that Anne is exactly what she is. No matter how you take these words from The Refrain, she is what she is; whatever you portray her to be.


Review by Josh Hess,
Founder in Chief
Decades Review


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