- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Posted April 1, 2011
Jill McDonough's book of poetry entitled Habeas Corpus was an inspiring and insightful look into the justice system of the United States. I found it fascination the amount of research that went into this collection of poetry. McDonough gives each man and woman a voice through her poetry, helping them to live once more through her words about their trails and executions.
I found it interesting the things some of the people were charged with, such as atheism (George Kendall), devil worship, as well as witchcraft. I thought it interesting that Jill McDonough inserted some of the original text from the transcripts of the trail into her poetry. It gave each poem a greater depth, a greater purpose, than simply to entertain the reader.
I found the poem about William Fly beautiful. One of my favorite quotes is when he states that he "will not die with a lie in his mouth" when asked to say that he had forgiven his enemies. I found it fairly amusing that he refused all food and drink except for rum. Another poem that gave me pause was entitled, "Tom, a Negro." This poem was rather said and very brutal when McDonough describes the punishment dealt to Tom. He was sentenced to hang by the neck till he be Dead, his head severed, his Body to be cut up into four Quarters. His Head to be stuck up at the Cross Road near Jones's, a Quarter near Wily's, one at Farley's, one at some publick place."
I greatly enjoyed McDonough's selection of poetry, fascinated at the different types of justice, law, crime, and punishment seen throughout the years of the United States.
Posted March 28, 2011
Jill McDonough's Habeas Corpus is a fascinating collection of unique sonnets taken from those dark parts of history that we tend to neglect. Jill has taken fifty cases of legal execution from American history, researched them, and put them into sonnet form. In essence, the poems are like a series of snapshots from some of the most violent and gruesome executions in America and while Jill has written about the events in their raw and bloody nature, she also gives us an adequate level of respect for the humanity of those executed.
Reading Habeas Corpus is a chance for us to re-connect with the dark sides of our heritage. It helps us pause and think about the nature of this thing we call "the death penalty." We wonder to what extent it has served our society and in what sense does it bring justice. It is easy for most to desire retaliation against the most violent of criminals and yet we want to know as little as possible about the details of their deaths. Each sonnet brings with it a different set of questions and feelings. They remind us of the unfair trials and possibly innocent people who were put to death under the American constitution and also of the horrific acts of some of the most violent criminals. Among the people listed in the book we find notorious names such as Nat Turner, Timothy McVeigh, and John Brown alongside more obscure names like William Fly, George Cooke, and Reuben Dunbar.
For anyone remotely interested in history, the sonnet or both, Habeas Corpus is a fascinating read. It's unique. It's fresh. And it deals with subject matter thathas never been written about in such an artistic manner. It is definitely one of the best collections of poetry on my bookshelf.