My daycare provider is down with the flu, and Vincent is still sleeping because he stayed up until I returned from the poetry reading last night, so I have this unexpected lovely time to luxuriate in this new book of poems.
Now I’m not going to pretend impartiality — anyone who reads this blog with any sort of regularity (anyone?) knows I’m a big admirer of Emma and her poetry — nor am I writing a review here really. I’m not especially good at that sort of writing, I’m afraid, which perhaps you’ve noticed — I’m too much the fan girl, and have no patience for things like plot summaries.
[Though I will insert here that I’m ever so sad that Michiko Kakutani gave Salman Rushdie a less-than-glowing review for his new novel, which I adored. But it was a well-written review, and while I disagree with her conclusions, it’s reasoned and respectful. This coming Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, on the other hand, includes a negative review that I just consider useless.]
It’s been a long time since I read a book of poems I felt so much affinity for and loved so much. The Mariner’s Wife, just released from Finishing Line Press, is about love, relationships, heartbreak, shopworn subjects that Emma invigorates by virtue of her rich language and the ingenious juxtaposition of the Mariner poems (“The Mariner,” “The Mariner’s Wife Dreams of Hands,” etc) with more seemingly personal poems, and others that tread the line between and bridge the gap. In fact, the sequencing of this chapbook is extremely instructive for any poet, it’s so masterfully done, with utterly seamless transitions.
I just love this book and urge everyone in the most strenuous terms to go to Finishing Line’s website and buy a copy for yourself — I promise you it will be the best poetry purchase you’ll make this year.
Below is one of those bridging-the-gap poems, which illustrates the energy and surprise of her lines, the sensuality and inventiveness of her diction:
What to Heed, What to Leave
In the first flush of fever I was a green dress
tying to be untied. You were fingers of pine
bark, a beard’s smooth scratch. You were the scent
of cardamom and silk. My pillows wore your name.
The village women called for amethyst, aventurine
for healing, an emerald disc over the heart o if
thine true love come. Too late. Packed my chest in ice,
my feet in snow. Bird wings circled a man
of danger. The stars spilled out the one
you’ll blame. Too late. You were already a raw
wire within me, my own mind’s sputter and spark.