Good Want

Good Want

A review of Good Want by Domenica Martinello

Published on July 4, 2024

We must want the right things and we must want them the right way. The correct kind of happiness threatens us with suburban homes, cars, dogs, children playing in front yards. In a vicious act of rebellion, Domenica Martinello demolishes the delusions of this capitalist pastoral in Good Want.

Good Want
Domenica Martinello

Coach House Books
$23.95
paper
112pp
9781552454824

Marked by grit and a bitter sharpness, the lines of this book constantly ask what it means to be good and what we should want. Good Want grapples with a dark force that urges us to “keep stockpiling” and “waste not your wanting,” an insidious drive that brings the deprived to “imagine juice out of powder, tide out / of detergent, wine out of water.”

Martinello makes visible the sparse offerings for the many in this economy, and she embraces some deeper questions unearthed in the process. What are we left to believe in, if we are only allowed to desire specific things in a specific manner? It is no coincidence that biblical references and confessional modes permeate this collection. The speaker’s honesty is uncompromising and points out a dangerous nothingness behind all struggle, as even “Money can’t buy class. / It’s inherited genetically.” There is no out for anyone, not even those who champion financial success.

Poem by poem, the book reckons with exhaustion, expectations, the frustrations of city life, of work, of being a partner, of being defined by a myriad of imposed norms. This critique culminates in the title piece – which earned its author the Malahat Review’s Long Poem Prize – in which we learn that “Good is what happens / when you stretch God too far” and that “Want is what happens. […] Next comes shame.” Perhaps almost ironically, given its insistence that genuine creativity is impossible under the system it convincingly rejects, Good Want is a gripping and destructive blow of poetic resistance.mRb

Martin Breul is a Montreal writer and caffeine-addict, currently pursuing a doctorate in Canadian literature at McGill. He writes poetry, flash fiction, reviews, and more. In 2023, Cactus Press published Martin’s debut chapbook love poems suck. Twitter/X: @BreulMartin

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