Skillman employs many references to transportation – trains, mostly, but other kinds too. In the introductory poem we get our first train reference, when the grandmother is counting beats for her own personal waltz: “Always the counting beneath the whistles of trains/ running westward from the town of no money.” (from My Grandmother’s Waltz, p. 18). The train here is ghost-like. It brings a nagging fear of having to escape poverty.
Throughout the collection, Young depicts the demimonde of women in the midst of affairs of the heart, neither fish nor fowl, but mostly foul; at least, fraught with emotional turmoil. This is captured so succinctly in “Postcards from the Floating World,” a series of four haiku that all begin similarly: “I cry out. His words”; “I cry out. His eyes”; “I cry out. His lips”; “I cry out. His hands / claw fierce, wild, deeper than pain / cradling my face.” The balance between pleasure and pain is a constant seesaw.
Letters in Language is a powerful collection: vibrant, sexy, sad, and very smart. The poems are dense, but also full of play, open space for reader interpretation, and steeped in cultural and literary references. As with all memoir, it is the exploration of a life, but is also an exploration of poetry, the way in which language itself creates reality and history, and very nature of the literary form.
In many of these poems, what begins as a hyper-local calamity–in an alley, a travel lodge, a club–transmogrifies in Mr. Merrill’s hands into sentences where what comes next is determined to flush the subject straight out of its just-tamped-down bed in the tall grass. The reader is shocked into vigilance, which gradually becomes a kind of acute reciprocity, an attention that is not easily achieved in our daily lives.
Denise Duhamel can be serious and playful in the very same sentence, solemn and satiric in a single stanza. At the heart of this marvelous new collection is the thirty-five page mock epic, “Terza Irma,” a poem written in terza rima – an arrangement of succeeding tercets that rhyme aba bcb cdc ded, etc. Notably, it’s the rhyme scheme Dante uses in The Divine Comedy, which is appropriate because Duhamel describes a sort of Inferno of her own, her experience of the 2017 hurricane that devasted Florida. She is by turns serious and comic.
Foxline is an exquisite, bold work of poetry, with each poem taking on multiple meanings and holding back just the right amount at the point of denouement to allow space for the reader to pause, think, and engage. Mansell’s writing is masterly in its restraint, and beautifully written throughout. Though Flying Island’s Pocket Poetry series uses a tagline of “minor works,” Foxline is anything but.
Tweedie is a very fluid writer with a clean, clear, expressive style, which grabs ahold of you with its immediacy and beauty of execution. What is most striking is the mixture of Christian belief intermingled with an honesty of thought, never coming across as sermonizing, but expressing a faith-filled wonder and appreciation for the natural world and the place of the intelligent believer within it.
Perhaps what is most heartrending is the poem is cast in the present simple conditional mood until the last sentence throws it into the past, which cannot be changed. The speaker’s helplessness before the pain of the PTSD of her ex-husband is compounded and yet inevitably accepted by that painful turn. In the collection, the various symbols from here on begin reversing and resolving.
From the first poem, in this compelling book, the reader will experience a variety of emotions as well as thoughts questioning the ethics of the experiment. In narrative poetry form, with creative talent and imagination, the author recount events in in the life of Lucy. His words flow with musicality and stories are fascinating.
Mourning vies with exultation at every crisp turn of phrase and every crunchy, unexpected line break. Some of that mourning is for the earth, for its creatures, for human folly and ignorance, for the apprehended apocalyptic end of days. Mourning is sometimes captured in references to popular music hits — Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash always blaring out of cars of boys, and fathers who don’t know what to do with, without or about the boys — and sometimes in the symphony of stars, skies, space and otherworldliness.