For a poet, I think I’m late to the nesting and writing stages of coronavirus grief. But thanks to a cat, perimenopause and Natalie Goldberg, I’m here now.
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.
SWEET INSURGENT by ELYSE FENTON / Even as we are shown how volatile and precarious life can be, Fenton delivers lines that are tender both in what they reveal and in how they convey vulnerability: “I never planned to love like this.”
THE GALAXY IS A DANCE FLOOR by BIANCA LYNNE SPRIGGS / Sketches — moth, narwhal, astronaut, etc. — appear in a series of “reverie” poems and contribute to the dreamlike, disorienting quality of those poems, which are numbered but presented out of order.