The review is a sketch. It delighted me, as I was already curious about inventive ways to respond to the books we read. I had written a nontraditional review to an essay collection a couple years back, but I had no idea what else was out there. With this blog post, I attempt to correct that.
PARTIAL GENIUS by MARY BIDDINGER / Where prose may imply narrative, the content within each “stanzagraph” defies the narrative. By telling fragmented stories, these poems keep their distance somewhat. Like teenagers. The narrative kind of “ghosts” us in these poems; its delightful, intriguing and tantalizing.
Don’t call it a comeback, but here are my Poetry Goals for 2020, which include generative goals, grant applications, reading projects and visual art. The creative hunger has returned. Let’s eat all the sandwiches!
GARMENTS AGAINST WOMEN by ANNE BOYER / The opening poem seems to describe both degrees of suffering and our attachment to suffering, and in this way, the rest of the collection continues conversations in which the narrator argues both for and against herself. It’s partly how Boyer is able to implicate both structures (like capitalism) and the self at the same time: systems are so internalized as to be indistinguishable from our human nature.
SAVE OUR SHIP by BARBARA UNGAR / “Save Our Ship” is a cry for the planet. And not just environmentally. It’s an SOS for our species (dear God, what we inflict on one another in relationships and global conflicts).
OCEANIC by AIMEE NEZHUKUMATATHIL / I want to return to this book to study the “self portrait” poems more closely. Very often with persona poems, I’m too distracted by the device/set-up that I can’t get lost in the language/effect. But the persona poems in this makes the cloak invisible, and I’m curious how it’s achieved.
A couple weeks ago when I was lamenting to a friend about the utter lack of progress I’ve made this year (sinking, sinking), she reminded me that this isn’t just the culmination of 2019 but of a decade. And she encouraged me to think of all that’s happened in the decade: 2010, for example, was the first year without my mom and the last year of my marriage.
Poetry teaches us how to listen, and poetry helps us know things, like urgency, tenderness and the value of each story.