This is post #3. Every day for the entire duration of the National Poetry Month, I will try to post short write-ups about poetry books that I like.
Today, I champion two books by Amy Newman.
On Amy Newman's "Fall"
Here are Amy Newman’s superb iterations of the word “fall.” I’ve never read anything like it. I’m a long-time fan of Newman’s poetry, and it’s difficult to condense into words how I sometimes flinch while I marvel at the beauty of her writing:
a shedding of the eye level of things --
tinny cascade of objects...
For me, this book defines how contemporary poetry must rear its rebellious, unkillable head -- with finesse, with daring in its exploitation of language, with unparalleled richness.
On Amy Newman's "Order, or Disorder"
Order, Or Disorder is replete with themes that touch on mortality and spirituality. What I love about Amy Newman’s brand of poetry is the earthy and impenetrable-but-there air. Even her dose of honesty is delivered in a devious way.
Excerpted from “Parallax,” the poem that contained the titular line:
.... Scrape off the shavings
like the allowance of sin.
This one is from “River,” my favorite piece in the book. It is the very antithesis of sappy and inspiring nature poetry.
Winter froze the first half-foot of river straight down
solid, gray-green, encasing
what rushed beneath it. There are underneaths, enclosures,
contents. Frames, windows, houses, channels,
conduits, arteries, riverbanks. I’m afraid the snow
will press on coming summer’s grasses.
The river hangs names like bodies in the cold trees.
Order, Or Disorder is an incredibly varied and complex masterpiece. Each poem is well-thought. Each line break is contrived to quicken the breathing a little. Each blow is delivered subtly, lovingly.
Every day for the entire duration of the National Poetry Month, I will try to post short write-ups about poetry books that I like.
Post for April 1 is about the fantastic book by Peg Duthie.
Author: Peg Duthie
Publisher: Upper Rubber Boot Books
To buy from Amazon
Measured Extravagance is a refreshing blend of esoteric facts, dark humor, and nostalgia. We start with a striking cover that may be suggestive of how we can conjure something organic -- like feathers from an Erlenmeyer flask.
What I admire most about this book is Peg Duthie’s masterful treatment of highly politicized topics (such as the political inclinations of well-known scientists) into a non-politically-correct lattice. “A Particular Truth—1941” is a fine example. Its thematic kin is the unforgettable series of poems by John Canaday here.
“Devotion” is remarkably tender:
perfuming the hands of his wife as she strokes
the dreaming cat.
In “Deep and Crisp and Even,” Duthie talks about the unruly “language of desserts” where
We love the one slice too many, the body's
sleepy struggle to house so much
In "Gift Shop, St. Peter in Gallicantu, Jerusalem," Duthie speaks of the energy of material things and how they define us:
Who knows what happens next, to the bags--
too small for utility, too strange for luxury--
do they languish for years in kitchen drawers
or become the knapsacks of dolls?
My most favorite piece in this engrossing collection is “She Says, Follow the Graves.” It successfully weaves mythical elements and the quest for eternal life. It is capped by a powerful closing line.
Here are the emotionally jarring opening lines of “She Says, Follow the Graves.”
There are special hollows for the unmended: the unclosable
wound, the irreparably scarred Queen of Spades
worn out from too many unspeakable tricks.
Measured Extravagance delivers. What a gorgeous collection!
Meditations of a Beast
Age of Blight
A Roomful of Machines
We Bury the Landscape