Anne Marie Turza’s debut collection of poetry uses language to hint at what is beyond language. For instance, the poet uses the image of moths with button holes sewn to their wings noting they are “drawn not to the bulb, but to the/ darkness beyond just beyond it, the darkness that light intensifies.” This is not unlike what it is like to read the book: the, vivid imagery—which pulls in language from science, myth and Russian literature—is entrancing, and one finds oneself drawn back to it. Sleep is a theme throughout the book but the pervading mood is not at all dreamy; rather an insomniac logic defines a poetic world where sleep is an industry, comes in snippets and is itself a foreign language that the poet does not understand. The book is divided into five sections, with sections about The Quiet placed at the beginning middle and the end of the book. The nature of the quiet is unfolded in zen-like passages that rest as little self-contained boxes on the page. The reader is told repeatedly what the quiet is “not unlike” and thus it becomes easier to say what the quiet is not, rather than what it is. The quiet surrounds the book’s two other sections, Not Mine, Not Anyone’s and Other Buzzing Passages. In these, carefully crafted prose poems composed of exquisite vivid sentences alternate with lined poems. While there is no obvious reference to the quiet, the theology of the quiet pervades these sections. It is here that the speaker makes reference to a god (like the quiet never capitalized within the text) who is similarly elusive, who is “leaving,/ leave snow to be snow/ of what kinds/of its kinds.// Snow of lit vestibules/Snow shadowed with algebra.”). This deity belongs to no-one, is in charge of “untrue colours” and “conditional tenses. The book is meticulously crafted. Despite the lack of obvious narrative structure, each poem is linked to the one before it, creating a coherent whole. (Submitted by Jennifer Z.)
Poetry can seem intimidating, especially if you were scarred by it in english class in high school. But Michael V. Smith’s latest collection of poems, Bad Ideas is very accessible and richly rewarding: reading his poems feels like watching a beautiful rainbow, his words wash over you in waves of colourful emotions – joy, sadness, grief, and humour. His poetry is not weighed down by oblique references or excess verbiage: he speaks plainly and from his personal experience dealing with family trauma, lost loved ones and long-distance friends. Bad Ideas is a great introduction to poetry in the 21st century. (Submitted by Andrea)
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