Lest the entire cruelest month pass without a post...
Between pushing A Visit From the Goon Squad on everyone I know, watching a certain historian dashingly defend his dissertation, and planning a rather complicated trip on the Trans-Siberian railroad, my reading life has been somewhat abbreviated. That can be good for poems, though, which usually aren't very long anyway.
Full disclosure: I know very little about contemporary poetry beyond the names of various "famous" poets and the terms I had to learn in school. My appreciation of poetry is pretty similar to my appreciation of food -- I like it when it tastes good and then I really like it. Sometimes I can see and admire the forms and structures underneath, but that only matters to me if I already like what I'm eating.
This month, I'm liking Anne Carson (again). I will probably never stop liking her. Current title: The Beauty of the Husband, a "fictional essay" about an impossible (but incredibly desirable) marriage. Carson favors poems that tell stories, which probably explains my affinity for her, but she also writes lines that would be brilliant in any context -- the kind I'd like to steal for my next story, email, or grocery list.
The first poem in the book, a dedication to John Keats, opens with a stunner of an idea: "A wound gives off its own light / surgeons say. / If all the lamps in the house were turned out / you could dress this wound / by what shines from it."
It's prose-y and dry, yet rhythmic, and just strange enough to make me wonder, Gosh is that true? (While another reader who shall remain nameless felt certain he'd read it before. Such is the power of a good line.) Soon enough, in the lines and pages that follow, marriage and many other things are caught shining, too. Other images and themes join in (the nape of a neck, letters, hesitation) making a metaphoric collage of this couple's life, and before I know it, I'm caught up in the very specific yet entirely universal emotion of their wounds.
Do wounds actually give off light? (Seriously, doctors, do they?) Whatever the answer, they do here.
author of The Violet Hour, reader, prodigious eater of ice cream