The Fifth House Tilts has been nominated for the 2022 Eric Hoffer Awards! Read further to learn what others have to say about the book.
Peggy Hammond’s The Fifth House Tilts is a brave exploration of the dissolution of a marriage and a remaking of oneself. The title makes use of astrology, which divides the sky into 12 houses, the fifth one being the so-called house of pleasure. Hammond uses this concept to render trouble in the house of love. The collection opens bravely mid-heartbreak and carries on with transformative music and imagery. The speaker becomes a part of nature, the “seeds / rattling in a dry shell,” “a shy trout,” while nature, in return, is anthropomorphized and the “sky whispers rain.” These poems are sensual, unveiling, illuminating, and they take us to a place beyond logic yet so real, raw, and relatable. They are a song and a solace.
author of Small Crimes
Hammond’s engaging collection, The Fifth House Tilts, explores themes of strength and resilience through the fictional speaker’s journey of re-building the self. Her protagonist, a courageous single parent, searches for “wholeness of being.” Each poem is a tender stepping stone in the process of letting go, grieving the loss of a marriage, and embarking on a new life. Beautiful images of nature are woven throughout, as in the poem “Dragonfly,” where her son is “soft-bodied, vulnerable, / new wings woven of lace and hope ….” Ultimately, these stunning poems guide us towards renewal, “the shape of new life is different / but it breathes / and reaches for the sun ….”
—Cristina M. R. Norcross
Founding Editor, Blue Heron Review, author of The Sound of a Collective Pulse, Beauty in the Broken Places, and other titles
With lush, inventive metaphors, Peggy Hammond’s poems in The Fifth House Tilts tell a story of marital betrayal and healing mapped to the actual, phenomenal earth in all its forms: the speaker’s garden, the turning seasons, the roots and branches of trees, cities from Paris to Bruges, the graveside of an unknown person where the speaker imagines herself the honored widow, embraced by others. She flows as though water to the dawning reality that she is alone—Of being beloved,/I must not be covetous—and that she will survive. Through tightly woven images and persistent truth-telling, the speaker arrives back at herself: I have ceased suffering/the singe of your desires./I am granite./I will not crumble. This is a book not only of survival, but of the very mechanics of hope and despair and perseverance, and one to which I will come back again.
author of Crown of Wild