Sharon H. Nelson

Family Scandals

The Muses' Company, 1994, 121 pp.


Family Scandals is set on a verse from Song of Songs [8:8], "We have a little sister/Whose breasts are not yet formed./What shall we do for our sister/When she is spoken for?" Part of Wendy Putman's review of Family Scandals appears on its back cover because it provides a succinct and accurate statement about the text.

"Family Scandals captures with precision the feelings of an adolescent girl in the nether-zone between child and adult, where men respond with lust and women deny or denounce budding sexuality. At this stage, girls learn to internalize the duplicities that compose the social script prescribed for women, duplicities defined as sane and normal by the dynamics of family life. . . .In Family Scandals, Nelson maps a territory in which women can claim sexuality and celebrate womanhood. With a poetic voice that is clear and strong, Nelson creates delicate balances. Her images are erotic and powerful--and they are images of woman's eroticism and woman's power. Pained and loving, angry and tender, these poems go straight to the heart."

There is a link to the Prologue, an essay entitled "Controlling Metaphors, Myths, and Illusions" and the Preface begins: "Nostalgia for the styles and trappings of the 1960s mainly ignores the intellectual and ethical work that shaped experiments in social, medical, and political practice. Much of the substance of that work has been obscured by post-modernism and the politics of entitlement, but especially by the conservative backlash, to which the ideas pose a substantial threat. I chose titles for Family Scandals to suggest reconsideration of some of that work. . . . In Family Scandals I name and frame sexual exploration and experience as dance . . ." .

Sharon H. Nelson. 15 March 1999.