It's been awhile since I've reviewed a poetry book. I don't personally enjoy reading reviews of poetry books, and I hate writing them. I'm certain they must be useful and serve a function (what that is, is for another post) which is why I post reviews others have written especially if they are written by other poets whose work I respect. When I read a review, I just skip to the excerpts from poems, and if I like them, I'll read the book. Poetry is personal. It's honestly a dialogue with yourself. I would not say a monologue because a monologue is one inner voice speaking out. What I mean by dialogue here, is one inner voice speaking in to itself. Through a poem we are able to paradoxically receive a message from an-other that is also ourselves. The inner speaking to an inner, and the inner responding back. So when I read someone else's work, what I'm listening/feeling for is a response inside. If there is none, that's ok; that poem has nothing to say to me right now. If there is, that's good too. I think reading poetry is that simple. You can talk about the particularities, of course, the wordsmithing, the devices, the format, the form, the function, the rhythm, the rhyme, the feelings evoked, the references, and more (the academic side of poetry, in other words). But outside of that, it's personal and intimate. What I think a poem means, what it's saying to me, is for me. A secret that is keeping itself. Hopefully, this isn't too alienating. I think potentially it is liberating. If even one person can approach poetry in a new way, without someone else telling them what to think about/what to feel about/how to derive meaning from a poem, simply because they came out of the experience without feeling dumb or lost or frustrated when they didn't see what so and so said they should see, or they didn't feel a certain feeling, or the academic accoutrements didn't mean anything to them, I will be happy. So without further ado, here are some excerpts from poems contained in Eric Elshtain's book of poetry entitled This Thin Memory A-Ha. It's published by Verge Books.
from "Early Maneuvers, Closing Matters"
[...] This scriptlessness
will be about subsidence, it will become
the centerpiece of a belief. Stints at the ready,
sorties at the eyes away to reason [...]
What he thought occurred, so we all sing
about meeting ourselves.
Wave. You have every reason- you're
making yourself an unmaking.
from "When you Punctuate the Equilibrium"
only then the men smile over the coelacanth,
cover themselves with sea-made
clays. Suddenly shells will be patchworks of male
and female; our world will be
loaded between rock-beds and will avoid the
flood by being flood; there will be no
more swimming with stones; no more death
circles for wind to wear off the rocks [...]
[...] Gather your optical
illusions into one last attraction so we'll never
know whether your down was up,
or your up was just another sham.
from "Shawl Dance"
[...] And since, no sky is like
the kind that caused us
under the act
of a single dance
to be all too created.
from "Choice Shapes Results"
"magic at one time, and then religions; / monopolize the snake, the worlds begin."
from "On Anything of Skin"
I soak the twine in squids' ink to design
a way into the wave the whale's weave
then tie the flag and coil the line to times
I count from deck, black crest, black break, believe [...]
[...] the minimal amount of my content
that lends her end the sea, a sea, a men.
from "Spell to Uncover the Use of Bodily Organs (in Heaven)"
[...] Hymn the vessels
Say it's better
to be a stick or stick spelled
onto a rib, until you are, in time,
an interim into anatomy's crown.