Her Side of It: Poems


Poetry from Utah’s 1999 Poet of the Year, a collection highlighting perspectives on womanhood, love, parenthood, and relationships.

Association of Mormon Letters Best Poetry Anthology

July, 2010

SKU: 978-1-56085-208-7 Categories: , Author: Marilyn Carlton-BushmanProduct ID: 1364


Marilyn Bushman-Carlton notices the differences, inherent or learned, between men and women, even in her own family. Take sports, for example. In “The Girls’ Game,” she notices how “the fathers think of soccer / as the usual battlefield,” while the daughters hear “their mothers’ cotton voices” and apologize. “Oh, sorry!” they tell their opponents: “No, you go ahead.”

She makes an arc from the present back to her own childhood, then forward through marriage and the challenges of parenthood. She explores a woman’s choices, the joys and bumps along the way. For instance, she realizes her husband would put his body “between mine and a smoking train,” then asks, “Would you, My Sweet, / like Pierre de Châtelard, / write poems for your lady, be cinched / into clothes with collars big as carriage wheels?”

She writes of watching, unnoticed, her son dancing in his room, spinning in “erratic ovals.” “I watch,” she writes, “because I have never been a boy, fourteen, shuffling into a man, / … I have only been a mother / … I have been a girl / in love with a boy this age …”

“Love is a delicate chain of moments,” the poet writes. Her approach to poetry is the same as toward love, delicate and interconnected. As Kathleen Bryce Niles, past editor of the Comstock Review, writes, Bushman-Carlton is “an astute observer of human beings, particularly those closest to her,” and her “poems are both honest and touching.”

Marilyn Bushman-Carlton was named the 1999 Utah Poet of the Year by the Utah Poetry Society. She has been a Utah Arts Council Artist-in-Residence, UAC Artist Grant recipient, and prize-winner in the UAC Original Writing Competition. Her two anthologies, on keeping things small and Cheat Grass, have received critical praise, as did Her Side of It, a finalist in the Jesse Bryce Niles Chapbook Competition at the Comstock Review. She has published in Earth’s Daughters, Ellipsis, Exponent II, Iris,Sunstone, Utah English Journal, the Wasatch Review, and elsewhere. She also participated in City Art Poetry on the Bus and contributed to Discoveries: Two Centuries of Poems by Mormon Women and To Rejoice as Women: Talks from the 1994 Women’s Conference.

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3 reviews for Her Side of It: Poems

  1. Kathleen Bryce Niles, The Comstock Review

    “Marilyn Bushman-Carlton explores how subtly, yet deliberately, we are taught to be women or men. Acknowledging how she was led “through a narrow door” to marriage and motherhood, she nevertheless celebrates her “choices.” Yet she “walks against contemporary traffic” and wonders what it would be like to be “those other women.” From “the shelter of home / commuting to the kitchen and back,” she has been an astute observer of human behavior. With her keen sense of language and an eye for rich imagery, she creates poems that are honest and moving.”

  2. Susan Elizabeth Howe, contributing editor, Tar River Poetry

    “Written with candor, these poems transform ordinary experiences into extraordinary glimpses into a woman’s personal life. Bushman-Carlton recalls such things as grade school immunizations, a fire drill during gym class showers, a teacher demonstrating how to put on a brassiere. She writes lovingly of her son dancing in his room, her daughter learning about death at medical school, her concerns for a grandson. With delicacy, humor, and discretion, she tells what women know and what men ought to know about a woman’s side of things.”

  3. Nancy Chaffin, Irreantum

    Otherness exists among women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and while it can and has created division throughout the history of the Church, Marilyn Bushman-Carlton’s poem illustrates that it can also lead to articulation. Personally, I have feared that, in the midst of such diversity, women will not be able to unite in loving sisterhood. Amy Hoyt, author of “The Continuum of Women of Faith: Examining Rifts Created by the Equal Rights Amendment between Women in the LDS Church” said this: “LDS women’s lives are still placed into polarities today. This has contributed to a culture of judgment that has isolated women and strained relationships that are central to the Relief Society” (72). In this poem, Carlton artistically illustrates that otherness does not have to destroy relationships; it can actually lead women to examine their own lives and experience self-actualization. As the speaker interacts with the “others,” she acknowledges her feelings of exclusion as well as the possible assumptions of other women. Her introspection brings understanding concerning her personal identity, which leads her to voice her personal epiphany. Sharing these epiphanic experiences with one another can lead women to greater appreciation and understanding of one another.

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