Julene's Reviews > shana linda~pretty pretty

shana linda~pretty pretty by Nanette Rayman-Rivera
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Aug 07, 09

bookshelves: poetry
Read in August, 2009

I had to slow down to enter Nanette Rayman-Rivera's world and language, I found myself reading each poem several times, I looked up words and did goggle searches to come into her work deeper. This is a book that is rich with dense images, her writing evokes pain yet rides the pain using exotic flowers-flor de maga & Laeila Lobata (an orchid), birds, and the world of theater. I learned much that was out of my radar: Laurette Taylor is the famous silent film star; Sarah Heartburn is a common name for Sarah Burnheart exemplfying an overly dramatic daughter, a Buchner flask is named after a German organic chemist, a bildungsroman is a type of novel concerned with the education, development and maturing of a young protagonist, these and other images are throughout these lyrical poems and plays.

In the poem "malach," she writes, "My father keeps Winstons and a pale/blue yarmulke in his bureau to ambush angels./As they appear to come from the underground,/cigarette smoke veils how he's done/with God's split-shift." Death visits this night and later in the poem, "Brutality, like an itch in a dream,/a wandering woman heard a voice/as if she were present with the angels,/to her they came, they/nudged her, wagered her winds." We can see the father so vivid in this image, feel the deep currents of emotional winds in her work.

More pain in the poem "an actress and her stigmata," she writes, "On what you're after. You think you will make it,/each woman a mess-about denudes herself in smiles the bigger/the sadder. Her wrist and pulse a friendship/bracelet covering her scars, refusing to be imagined otherwise."

On the publisher's website it states one of the things this book is about is homelessness—I would say it is about homelessness in the heart of a woman who is beautiful in a world that gives beauty back only through nature. A book of displacement, yet in it is a survivor making sense through a complex web, and sometimes holding onto the pain is what gives strength. I feel the pain, feel the incredible strength in her words; she speaks in a complex language that touched my heart.
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Insightful and sensitive!

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