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The Logic of Opposites
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Reviews 2012 > The Logic of Opposites

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message 1: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 143 comments The Logic of OppositesThe Logic of Opposites by Alane Rollings

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wonderful book of longish poems exploring "opposites" or paired conditions or states of mind: peace/disorder, illogic/logic, outside/inside, escape/return. I appreciate the intelligence and deep sensitivity of the speaker, who is able to enter the being of what's around her--people, plant, object, weather--in some way. And since there is international travel in the book, we get to see and feel a lot.

This excerpt from “Spiraling Upward” gets at it:

I’m no intellectual, but I think a lot.
Love gets me started. I turn it around and around in my brain
as if it’s meant to embrace everything.

And this, from "Positions of Strength"--the huge sentience thing:

A couple of women talk to the fire, ask why it dies, ask why men
embrace them, erase them, use them to get born or get a leg up to heaven,
leaving them behind, Bodhisattvas at the gate,
and in the rain and cold of interiors that no man knows.
There are no sexual mutilations here, no bride burnings.
Just two women talking.
Just one woman, really, with nothing left
but that she can still blush, fall in love, extend herself to anything
as if it were as sentient and complex as she.
Nothing left but that when the columbine opens wide
and the trees seem female, she can cry for them.
For the delicate evergreens, and for the chestnut tree as it pulls itself to leaf again.
For any man, for each hour, for every brick and creature,
and for the dust that will be back every other day
on the street paved with oyster shells, in the faded yellow house
where a woman’s glad to say
how much she had that she could give away.

The above is from a poem that explores, questions, and challenges the Chinese proverb, "If you have to be a human being, don't be a woman." I like how the poem can accept the challenge, accept the reality to which it alludes, and defy it all at once with the women's strength. This kind of emotional and intellectual depth and juggling of paradox goes on all through the book.

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message 2: by Jen (new)

Jen (jppoetryreader) | 1568 comments Mod
Thanks for sharing, Kathleen.
I really like the images of renewal in the poem and your comment about the Chinese proverb does help me see what she's doing. I have to say this, though. I wish she had dropped the last two lines quoted. It sounds too much like sappy cliche. It ties the poem up with a cute bow instead of letting it expand.

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