Laurie Rachkus Uttich’s Somewhere a Woman Lowers the Hem of Her Skirt (Riot in Your Throat) is a haunting, stirring dive into the depths of feminist literature. Throughout the collection, she expels the dark aspects of her life and womanhood and takes us through a journey of survival and growth. At its heart, it aches with the battle for equality in a world against women. In her own words, she “form[s] the word[s] of her childhood with a soft exhale,” but each poem in the book tells a story that packs the kind of punch that knocks the air out of you, the kind that keeps you reaching for your next breath (Cloud Cover p39).
One of the most influential poems to read was “I Never Told You This” in which the speaker of the poem tells of an abusive situation with a foster child, and the shame and self-blame that comes with harboring those secrets. She writes, “He didn’t need to tell me not to tell—I was corn fed on the Good Girls’ Gospel—and you didn’t need to tell me, just a few years later, not to put myself in those positions”. These are more than words that sit at the bottom of every woman’s throat––they are the lived experiences of so many who identify as a woman (and frankly some men too). In this way, we see how Uttich’s work honors her own story, while it also pays homage to the entire female experience.
Somewhere a Woman also stresses issues of mental health––especially PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in family members. In “I Guess PTSD Isn’t Some Cold You Can Just Catch” she reflects on “who” comes back after experiencing war. Traumatic experiences change people, and often the people who return from war are not the same who left. Whether through trauma endured in war, drug use, or poor living environment, Uttich pulls the reader into a leaving with traces of those absences.
Laurie Rachkus Uttich’s Somewhere a Woman Lowers the Hem of Her Skirt features some of the most influential feminist poetry I’ve read to date. Every word is carefully chosen to leave a lasting impression; I won’t be able to forget the poems in this book, and I suspect anyone who reads it will cling to it in the same way.
Caitie L. Young (they/she) is a poet and fiction writer in Kent, Ohio. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Scapegoat Review, the Minnesota Review, the Santa Fe Writers Project, and others. Caitie’s work is concerned with generational trauma, politics, and queer and transgender issues. They are studying creative writing in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts program (NEOMFA).