Mary Jo Bang’s amazing new collection of poetry, The Bride Of E, is vivid with haunting images. The poems in the first part of the book follow their lead from the alphabet, beginning with “ABC Plus E: Cosmic Aloneness Is The Bride Of Existence.” This disturbingly truthful poem is anything but simple. It mirrors the loneliness one can feel even in large crowds. This is just one example of the rich, thought-provoking poetry within this slim volume.
The poem “For Freud” begins with an exquisite sentence: “I didn’t mean to imply a girl is nothing more than a jewel box.” Volumes could be written on this statement alone. For a woman who grew up in a generation that expected women to be jewel boxes, “For Freud” is validation of a war fought to shed clinging expectations of society that all girls should marry a "good man" and become a mother. A new breed of independent women emerged from this battleground.
The Bride Of E is Mary Jo Bang’s examination into lived life. Some stanzas shine light into the dark shadowy corners of forgotten longings:
The bells are ringing, indicating
An original longing has been transformed
Into a pitch too high to hear.
This language encourages the reader to observe their surroundings with an artist’s eye.
Bang reveals our diverse world by splicing together images of college kids partying at a club, highbrow literary references, and even descriptions of a time to come. While there are hints of traditional romance, the poet has no problem throwing in a fragment of information technology or an impression of violence. The underlying message found in these poems is philosophy on a large plasma screen.
The second part of The Bride Of E consists of five prose poems that lend a hopeful note to the brutal honesty of part one. This is a collection I will take off my shelf to re-read and experience the life lessons waiting inside the cover.
Review by Ann Hite