1. Love Me, Anyway was published by Porkbelly Press in 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
2. This is Minadora Macheret’s first chapbook.
3. The speaker in these poems details three main subjects: the death of her mother, navigating Jewish identity, and suffering from Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
4. PCOS is a chronic, hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with cysts. Additional symptoms can include acne and excess hair growth, among others.
5. Many of the poems with PCOS at their hearts are biting and raw. Macheret’s speaker frames herself in a variety of ways to express the toll that disorder takes.
6. For example, “Self-Portrait as Mythos” begins with an evocation of Demeter. The speaker physically describes her body:
Quills trace where organs should be—
my abdomen is decomposing. My womb
bore the tundra. Arctic foxes
born of cystic eggs, a screeching bark,
like a mouth too big for its teeth—
the world forgot my tongue
is full of the dead. (7-13)
7. In “The First Time PCOS Spoke,” the speaker moves from metaphor to the real world in her depictions, but it’s no less intense:
The doctor didn’t believe my periods had disappeared.
Most months were painless
as I watched all the other girls clutch cramps and bloating—
I wanted that too. […]
Please gentle the body—
thicken it with sleep.
When you slow down,
you will be
again. (1-4, 8-13)
8. The poems with PCOS at their heart connect to the mother / daughter poems through (appropriately? obviously?) enough through genetics.
9. In “Signed, Your Daughter,” the speaker addresses her mother: “You pulled me apart again & again / laid out each fragment, the organs are failing / (that must be from her)” (6-8). And in “Even Sarah Needed God,” Macheret’s speaker ties disease to her mother and religion:
Reap a nation
and God will have your back,
but disease is crueler,
it left your genes
and entered mine. (10-14)
10. “In Hebrew Class I Learned of Femininity” is another compelling example of
how Macheret connects seemingly disparate subjects together:
You are Jewish—
(it) enters you before birth
by the blood of your mother
long gone and forgotten
to be fucked before the first marital year has passed.
These genetics are extraordinary
as she weaves the future from her sex. (1-7)
11. These intense poems culminate in the chapbook’s title poem, the last one, where the speaker talks from a tender place. It’s almost as if the poems previous were a marathon and now the speaker, vulnerable and worn-out, asks, “please love me, anyway,” (16). “Relief” isn’t the right word, but this simple statement strikes a chord, albeit in the gentlest of ways.
12. Love Me, Anyway is a chapbook of intense feeling in which Macheret is not only in conversation with herself, but with a world that cannot fully grasp all the challenges outlined within. Macheret continues in the tradition of Confessional poets like Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton; she’s adding to the conversation, not simply repeating what’s already been said. And we should listen.