Picture of Every Atom book

Every Atom, Erin Coughlin Hollowell’s second poetry collection is available from Boreal books, an imprint of Red Hen Press.

“With clarity and grace, Erin Coughlin Hollowell cleaves into the liminal spaces between living and merely existing, between the past and forgetting, between mother and daughter, and brings us these hard-won and resilient gifts from her journey. Every Atom is a book that you need to read, because in it are the poems that matter.”

Kevin Goodan, author of Let the Voices

“Erin Hollowell has written a stunning and beautiful tribute to a mother as she slips away into loss of memory and belonging in a body and family. And yet the richness of relation here―wreckage and tenderness―is a balm for the losses we all know we will suffer on behalf of those who have given us our lives and for our very selves. ‘Saint Crow,’ she writes, for darkness is indeed an entrance into the holy in these wise and nourishing poems.”

Alison Hawthorne Deming, author of Stairway to Heaven

“There comes a moment in every Erin Coughlin Hollowell poem when the heart threatens to burst open and spill light.”

―Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird’s Daughter

Whitman’s beautifully encompassing song asserts myself is also others. If “every atom belongs to me as good belongs to you,” then any given person is both vessel of radical sympathy who, in being alive, affirms your own life, and existential threat entire. The paradox is only the more confusing when the other is one’s own mother, whose body in housing your own, remains forever after that haunted dwelling from which one is always an exile, even as you hold her hand, remind her who it is you are—her daughter—and tend to her as she dwindles from dementia to death. Erin Coughlin Hollowell attends with a stoic honesty to her mother’s dying and the vast blanks of mind that accompany it; she also writes with a wry humor whose wit is rooted in the difficulty of love. “It is not tidy, memory / A house built straddling a chasm.” So these poems demonstrate that difficulty, seeking after the relict memories inside the whiteout of years, those lived facts that lurk underneath the darkening mind, waiting for that song to arrive as if from the world itself that might stave off despair if not offer repair. Hollowell gives us the profound gift she also offers herself, not Whitman’s grass denying there is any such thing as death, but truer, the poem as ritual that is willing—lovingly, honestly—to memorize oblivion, and rehearse the death it knows it cannot reverse.

―Dan Beachy-Quick, author of gentlessness

Reviewed by Dan Branch on 49Writers website.