knew how to burn themselves through,
how to make themselves shrines to their own longing.
The spectacular was never behind them.
-from “The Troubadours etc.”
In Incarnadine, Mary Szybist restlessly seeks out places where meaning might take on new color. One poem is presented as a diagrammed sentence. Another is an abecedarium made of lines of dialogue spoken by ...more
The mysteries of faith are degraded if they are made into an object of affirmation and negation, when in reality they should be an object of contemplation. -- Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace
Repose had aga ...more
When I see the bright clouds, a sky empty of moon and stars,...more
I wonder what I am, that anyone should note me.
Here there are blueberries, what should I fear?
Here there is bread in thick slices, of whom should I be afraid?
Under the swelling clouds, we spread our blankets.
Here in this meadow, we open our baskets
to unpack blueberries, whole bowls of them,
berries not by the work of our hands, berries not by the work of our fingers.
What taste the bright world has, whole fields
I did not think I was going to enjoy this as much as I did, as her last collection, Granted, was a bit of a hit or miss for me. But this. Wow... just wow.
I find it difficult to articulate just WHY I adore this so much. There were a few in here that just completely and utterly punched me in the gut. Namely, "An Update on Mary" was so heartbreaking. Overall, this collection was so personal, so illuminating, so vulnerable and beautifully written and set up, picking from across all ...more
Quiet. The rhythm of these poems didn't take immediately. Szybist's subjects are different than what I would typically read and probably even contemporary poetry as a whole. Her point of focus would seem to be religion and at first glance is, with half of the collections titles starting with 'Annunciation' after the Annunciation, yet is never so obvious. Once the rhythm caught, around the second half of the book, I found myself going back to the first part to re-read those poems I took nothing a...more
“There’s something profoundly inhuman about her. She is valued because she is a mother and because she is a virgin. And I am not either. So how do you make your way in the world as a woman when you are not aspiring to and cannot be valued for either of those and do not want to be valued for either of those?”
Szybist, who won a National Book Award last year for “Incarnadine,” w ...more
This book was reviewed in the November 2014 issue of World Literature Today. Read the full revi ...more
"The Troubadours Etc."
Just for this evening, let's not mock them.
Not their curtsies or cross-garters
or ever-recurring pepper trees in their gardens
At least they had ideas about love.
All day we've driven past cornfields, past cows poking their heads
through metal contraptions to eat.
We've followed West 84, and what else?
Irrigation sprinklers fly past us, huge wooden spools in the fields,
lounging sheep, telephone wires,
yellowing flowering shrubs.
These poems are trying too hard to be poems. The fact that they've been published in so many places makes me worry for the state of c ...more
Troubadours Etc.: Seemed to be about a road trip. Then about migrating birds. Then it feels like an unwanted end “the last of the sunlight is disappearing” and “try to come closer-/my wonderful and less than.”
Annunciation: Seems to be about grass from the perspective of the grass feeling the sun. “how many moments did it hover” and “even the shadows her chin made/never touched but reached just past”
Update on Mary ...more
Really goes out of her way to explain the hell out of herself - 1/4 poems have a provided quote or reference, and end-notes are provided as a decoder. I tend to prefer a willing ...more
(read: June 2013, May/June 2015, July 2016. Perfect summer-season read when one is surrounded by a Pacific Northwest blaze of green and aqua colors and flowers in blue, red, pink, yellow."
Really one could about turn to any page and pick something worth underlining, fit to write down in one's notebook and press to one's chest to savor the lushness of it.
"Days go by when I do nothing but underline the damp edge of myself.
What I want is wh ...more
But! This collection is named for a series of poems around the Annunciation, and "Conversion Figure" and "Annunciation in Play" I really liked. Th ...more
I was sitting in the carpet, reading it with great enjoyment. Sometimes, the words are so quiet in heart yet with strong clarity in mind and with assertive self-awareness, the thought is unstoppably fluent and deep, like deep ocean waves searching and entered my heart as if it knows where to harbor at.
The author catches the deep and common life of a woman's heart with such a sensitivity. The ...more
In one tender poem, Fender's Blue Butterfly intermingles with Kincaid's Lupine plants, portrays some elitist butterflies!
"As skull: Fissured, as unlit chandelier".
Som pretty good lines here, though the poems do not seem to hang together well.
"Just for this evening, won't you put me before you
until I'm far enough away you can
believe in me?" - The Troubadours Etc.
"From above, you looked small
as an afterthought, something lightly brushed in." - Conversion Figure
"This is what it's like to be alive without you he ...more
Religious under/overtones? Yes, although I'm not always certain if they are favorable or critical. The poet Mary plays with the idea of Mary in a myriad of ways, and the poems are emotional and musing. I enjoyed them even if I wasn't always sure I knew what was going on. There is also a lot of bird imagery, which makes me think of a certain Catholic I know.
The mysteries of faith are degraded if they are made
into an object of affirmation and negation, when in
reality they should be an object of contemplation.
--Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace
One poem is written from the perspective of the grass on which Mary kneels, another, "It is Pretty to Think ...more
I loved "The Troubadors, Etc", "Update on Mary", "Anunciation under Erasure", "On Wanting to Tell [ ] About a Girl Eating Fish Eyes", and "Holy". I really understood why she won so many awards because I think the writing for those poems is amazing and the story they tell ranges from very obvious to a bit obscure ...more