Mary Soon Lee's Reviews > The Alpaca Cantos

The Alpaca Cantos by Jenny Blackford
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really liked it
bookshelves: poetry

This is a small, beautiful book of poetry by Jenny Blackford, one of my favorite contemporary poets. The poems are mostly mainstream, but include those that stray into science fiction and fantasy. The wording is precise, articulate, with clear beautiful phrases. The poems are by turns striking, humorous, gentle, moving. I particularly liked the many references to nature, especially the nods to llamas, alpacas, and guanacos. (I have a very soft spot for guanacos.) I loved the compassion with which individuals, human or otherwise, are evoked.

Here is a section from "Going home" --

The rabbit is blue.
His long burrow
winding below the blue stream
is blue. The fish are blue.
Their pond is also blue.
The rabbit's lamps,
hanging from the ceiling
of his blue burrow, are blue
beneath the blue grass.

The lines are simple, beautiful in their simplicity. Then they are followed by five lines that cast them into something very close to tragedy--

My mother colours
trees birds rabbits streams
in one of the godsend books
the ACAT team advised.
Today, that page turns blue.

So many of the poems in this collection exhibit a similar combination of simplicity and weight. Of the 33 poems in the book, I ticked 23 as standing out -- a very high proportion for me. Worth both reading and re-reading. Highly recommended.

About my reviews: I try to review every book I read, including those that I don't end up enjoying. The reviews are not scholarly, but just indicate my reaction as a reader, reading being my addiction. I am miserly with 5-star reviews; 4 stars means I liked a book very much; 3 stars means I liked it; 2 stars means I didn't like it (though often the 2-star books are very popular with other readers and/or are by authors whose other work I've loved).
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Reading Progress

June 18, 2020 – Started Reading
June 18, 2020 – Shelved
June 18, 2020 – Shelved as: poetry
June 18, 2020 – Finished Reading

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