AS I was present during the writing of some of these works, I have special admiration for them. Jan's poetry has helped me fall in love with poetry, aAS I was present during the writing of some of these works, I have special admiration for them. Jan's poetry has helped me fall in love with poetry, and made me want to write my own works. A heartfelt collection....more
I only got about 30 pages in before I had to reutrn this to the library when it was due. What I read was very hard to get into and understand as a whoI only got about 30 pages in before I had to reutrn this to the library when it was due. What I read was very hard to get into and understand as a whole piece, so I'm not sure when I'll get around to picking it up again. Not rating it....more
You might get more information from this book if you know about the political history of the events that are talked about, or even of Kashmir itself.You might get more information from this book if you know about the political history of the events that are talked about, or even of Kashmir itself. I didn't, and not much else in the book helped me to learn about it. (Notes, back-or-the-book blurb, etc.)
Because of this, one can read the book as I did, for the quality and enjoyment of the poetry itself. Ali explores Eastern and Western traditional forms to great success. And as a whole, the book ends up being a collective of lost missives, unable to have reached their destinations.
The bookstore I browse through on Main Street of my small town is decent for it's size. And though the poetry section takes up a good portion of it, IThe bookstore I browse through on Main Street of my small town is decent for it's size. And though the poetry section takes up a good portion of it, I still always find myself wanting MORE. It's central Vermont, so there are shelves of the New England poets, the modern writers who are taught in these parts. Very little of color or the world outside of our national borders. Even worse, though, is a lack of representation of the rest of American poetry, the blue-collar, middle class versifiers. I'm sure this is common in most bookstores. And I know how lucky I am to have more than a few shelves to peruse. Nothing against the shops themselves.
So after weeks of browsing through the poetry offerings, I was surprised to find Linda Pastan there between Garrison Keiller and Walt Whitman. I read a couple of random poems, all of which knocked my socks off. Or rather, the lyrical and emotional intensity of the poems I'd read had me holding my breath, for fear of disturbing the cocoon of the poetic worlds before they finished revealing themselves. How could I not finish a poem that started:
In the walled garden where my illusions grow, the lilac, watered, blooms all winter, and innocence grows like moss on the north side of every tree.
("In the Walled Garden")
The images arose like ivy and the musical mythic voice pulled me into the secluded world of her imagination. How could I not trust a poet who then Socratically answered the title question of "Why Are Your Poems So Dark?" with a few of her own?
Isn't the moon dark too, most of the time?
And doesn't the white page seem unfinished
Lastly, the clincher for me buying this book was "Things I Didn't Know I Loved", written after a poem by Nazim Hikmet. Mostly for nostalgic reasons I guess. I discovered Hikmet's poem in high school. I can't recall which book it was anthologized in. But it was one of those rare poems I needed to photocopy and stick in my back pocket, wherever I went. I probably have it with me still, in a moldering box in the basement. It doesn't matter. The point is that poem fed me for so long, at a time when I needed it.
Now in my hands was a book by someone who might have known what that meant or was like.
There are a couple ways I read a poetry book--straight through (most likely, as the author intended it) or randomly (usually fine for collections). The random moment at the bookstore v. the straight reading at home proved quite different.
In pieces, this book contains small gems of insight into the compromises of living the average life, of writing and leaving the past behind. Collected, the book tells of a woman with a lineage she's lost touch with meditating on the obligations of age and persistence of death. As a whole, Pastan writes about writing and looking back. Instead of a collection of poetic moments(as I thought I might be getting), I got a life, reflected upon. Disappointed yet satisfied, as I might possibly find myself one day, looking back.
And that is the other thing. I see in this book a mirror of my future poetic life (or one to model from). There will be that looking-back time in my life, when it comes, when all those trying times have been written and published, when my voice has been heard and the need to call out has subdued. After the awards and citations, where will I be? Perhaps living my life as a book, already written. I could be satisfied with Linda Pastan's version of poetics and passions all grown up.
This is either fact or prophecy-- my one life no more than a spool
Wind In a Box offers up a well organized collection of poems in sections devoted to personal history, blues variations, prose poems and attempts at Wind In a Box offers up a well organized collection of poems in sections devoted to personal history, blues variations, prose poems and attempts at getting to the core of defining one's lineage.
What I liked most was the evident conclusion that the poet was a work in progress, that the blues will haunt in various shades forever, no matter how one tries to define it. And that trying to define oneself includes responding to pop culture, reminding ourselves of the past, and continually asking the same question until the right answer arises. (I was going to quote something here but I can't find the passage.)
We clawed free the moss and brambles, the colonies of crab-weed, the thorns patrolling the stems and I liked it then: the mute duty that tightened my parents' backs as if they meant to work the devil from his den.
And to anyone approaching, our laughter Must have sounded like the laughter of crows, those birds That leave everything beneath them trampled and broken open
There's more. Lot's more. But I don't want to ruin it for the prospective reader.
I first encountered Terrance Hayes's work by through some of the literary podcasts I listen to. Quite a few of them featured him reading his poetry ("Blue Terrance" [If you subtract the minor losses...]) is a favorite. And some were interviews with the author, from which I learned that he went to college to study painting and was encouraged to write poetry. Pittsburg is infused into these poems, but so is the blues music. And so is the long and complicated history of the African-American diaspora.
Because of the audio introduction, searched around town for on of his books but had to resort to special ordering it from my local bookstore.
This is his third book. If you are into what's happening at the talented end of contemporary poetry, do read this book....more