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These are reviews - 3 poets - I have contributed over the last few months to our local poetry group for our newsletter. I thought I would share them with you to see if you'd like to check out these amazing poets. To read this on my own computer I have to scroll a bit to the right with the bottom toolbar.
POETRY PRISM - Leonore Wilson
There is great value in reading literary magazines, online or in print. Recently, I discovered Leonore Wilson, poet-extraordinaire. What beautiful, musical, gritty, wise and wonderful words! Wilson is in love with language, with ideas, with wonder. Living in “the wilds” of northern California, she freely incorporates the natural world, and her themes range from relationships to religion to philosophy to music and more.
Consider these lines: The creek bed, near-brittle rock/Of bone, and yet the butterflies ripple/Rush over the ferment of sludge.... and this: Here the fury/Of my adherent yoke transfixes me with a million/Eyes on this spit-spattered frontier, in these/Childhood fields of skeletons and scars. “Spring Gods,” the first poem I encountered, a tale of loss and hope, ends thus: stones were drawn/to our anxious and swinging/bones as if we were/the forefathers of flame,/and the gold sparks/inside the flame,/two crimson flowers,/two Judas/butterflies in braid.
We are poets, and I think the following, if out of context, could apply to the writing process: You are turned over/and over like a rock tumbled out/until you glisten, resplendent;/thus having been seized, the pain/does not retreat, but increases/until you nourish it... Here, an excerpt demonstrating unashamed poetic license: wind like an/immortal diamond/ spread over the ball-knots/of disputing planets/and the whirl and whorl of stars/ while the symmetrical/and the/unsymmetrical/entreated molecules atoms gases/like blood-gush and the first flitches/of fern came forth/the beautiful blossoming yellow sun, the whitened/and swaled feathers of birds....
Wilson's poetry, to me, is not just words, but also music, dance, painting, and more, a breathless, breathful of marvelous pastiche. Her work has appeared in Quarterly West, TRIVIA, Third Coast, Pif, Poets Against the War, Madison Review, Five Fingers Review, Heyoka, Mungbeing, and elsewhere. She recently received a request to apply for Poet Laureate of Napa, California.
Poetry Prism - Robinson Jeffers
Robinson Jeffers, “Poet of the Pacific,” has long been one of my favorite writers. My introduction to Jeffers was a collaborative book entitled “Not Man Apart,” featuring photographs of the Big Sur Coast of California, by Ansel Adams and others. Its opening lines are “it is only a little planet/But how beautiful it is...And the fogs are its breath...All the free companies of windy grasses...” But Jeffers' work is not simple (or simply) nature poetry; it advocates for humanity to comprehend “organic wholeness.... Love that, not man /Apart from that, or else you will share man's pitiful confusions,/or drown in despair when his days darken.” Incredible lines abound: “here where enormous sundowns flower and turn through/color into quietness.....” (The mountains): “Pitch to the sea, the lean granite-boned heads/Plunge nostril-under...” My favorite poems include “The Caged Eagle's Death Dream, with its “the nerves of men after they die dream dimly/And dwindle into their peace;....” Jeffers was a master of alliteration and musicality (lyricism). “The Broken Balance “offers “Man, introverted man, having crossed/In passage and but a little with the nature of things.....Has begot giants, but being taken up/Like a maniac with self-love....cannot manage his hybrids...” “Signpost “ is another favorite. Consider “”Things are so beautiful....For what we love, we grow to it, we share its nature,” so one finds that Jeffers was also a philosopher, social anthropologist, and more. “Compensation,” offers “Solitude that unmakes me one of men/In snow-white hands brings singular recompense.....” and other beautiful phrases (driven by both alliteration and assonance): “when the long night tides/Sigh blindly from the sand-dune backward driven...” For me, the poetry of Robinson Jeffers is the closest one might come to experiencing in person the beauty he celebrated – and his plea for the sanctity of the natural world to be respected, via his gorgeous imagery and diction, is one to ponder and respect, while enjoying some of the most lovely, passionate poetry ever penned.
POETRY PRISM - Kenneth Patchen
Recently, a friend quoted Kenneth Patchen, sparking my interest in the poet: “I am a figment of my overworked and somewhat fertile imagination.” Patchen (1911 – 1972) fell in love with writing upon starting a journal at 12, and reading famous writers. Shortly after marrying in 1934, a dislocated spinal disk left him in pain for nearly thirty years. Patchen, whom Henry Miller called “The Man of Anger and Light” may be most remembered for his work regarding the horrors of war, but I find his romantic and other works beautiful and moving as well, delighting in their near-perversity, curious and colorful imagery, and catchy, oft-playful phraseology.
In “Creation” Patchen writes “Wherever the dead are there they are and/Nothing more. But you and I can expect/To see angels in the meadowgrass that look/Like cows …” “Fall of the Evening Star” offers “dear dying fall of wings as birds/complain.../Exaggerate the green blood in grass...” Another poem muses: [the] “Sky's prophetic chickens weave their cloth of awe.../Night in his soft haste bumps on the shoulders of the abyss.../And love's inscrutable skeleton sings.” Abject cynicism renders these lines: “Culture blubbering in and out/Like the breath of a stranded fish/Crucifixion in wax. The test-tube messiahs./Immaculate fornication under the smoking walls/Of a dead world./I dig for my death...” Lines like these make me gasp: such music! Such gorgeous language! Such, well, poetry!
“Saturday Night at the Parthenon” is an incredible work, and many might like “The Deer and the Snake,” as well as “The Artist's Duty,” the latter of which is basically a long list which includes
“To discourage all traces of shame
To kill only what is ridiculous
To omit nothing
To contradict everything
To lubricate each proportion
To exclaim at the commonplace alone
To forgive the beautiful its disconsolate deceit..”
The following is the first poem I read of Patchen's, so lovely (and brief) I include it in its entirety.
As We Are So Wonderfully Done With Each Other
As we are so wonderfully done with each other
We can walk into our separate sleep
on floors of music where the milkwhite cloak of childhood
oh my love, my golden lark, my soft long doll
Your lips have splashed my dull house with print of flowers
My hands are crooked where they spilled over your dear
It is good to be weary from that brilliant work
It is being God to feel your breathing under me
A waterglass on the bureau fills with morning.....
Don't let anyone in to wake us