Why We Chose It: “Daughterhood” by Katharine Kistler

The poem “Daughterhood” by Katharine Kistler reads like a movie playing in your head as images and details flow seamlessly from one line to the next. Reading this piece makes you feel like you are right there, following just behind this child-parent pairing in the poem, watching their every move happen in real time. Kistler’s attention to detail in this piece allows the reader to sink so deeply into the work, and feel fully submerged in what they are reading. There isn’t a point in the piece where the reader feels taken out of the space, and the poem’s ending feels organic and fits really nicely into the piece as a whole.

Kistler uses imagery in this piece to show the reader what this experience was like, and to place them directly into the setting. For example, there is a line where the speaker is describing the action that the child in the poem has taken. Kistler writes, “you throw little brown bits of food/and a constellation of orange and white bodies/ pop mouth first above greenish water.” This line stuck out to me most because at this point in the poem the setting and context had already been established, and this small detail pulled the reader into it even further. Her language here is especially strong as well, and words like “bits” and “greenish” make the overall feel of the poem accessible for the reader. It feels casual and comfortable, like you are hearing this story from a friend or experiencing it right then and there as well. The choice to use words that are more accessible and casual for the reader really allow the poem to open up.

“Daughterhood” felt personal and raw, which is why it stuck out to me so much in comparison to what we had previously been reading during the submission period. Most of the submissions we were getting had been on the heavier or darker side of things, But “Daughterhood” was simple and sweet, and made me feel good after reading. The piece feels like a memory that was being replayed for you, and the voice of the speaker feels very familiar. The idea of a daughter and her mother/father (we are never explicitly told who the parental figure is) spending a simple day together, where nothing out of the ordinary happens, gives a clear view of how the relationship works. Kistler also allows this idea to come across in this poem, and never overwhelms the reader with too much setting or too many images going on at once. Her intention from the first line feels very set and direct, and that’s followed through until the piece ends.


Gillian Koptik currently attends The Chicago High School for the Arts, and is studying Creative Writing there. Other than writing, she finds joy in music and performing, as well as the little things in life.

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