5,0 su 5 stelleFormalist poems - polished, witty, thought-provoking
1 ottobre 2016 - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
The first three sections of Gail White's collection of her formalist poetry, "Aperity Street", are polished, witty, enjoyable pieces. "Growing", "Working" and "Holding" take you through from views of childhood (inside and out) through to late middle age. Almost all of them are technically perfect - meaning, among other things, that they read smoothly without bumps or problems, and any of them would be comparatively easy to learn by heart.
My only problem with them relates to the occasional expression of a religious sentiment. If religion is expressed with the modern power of Gerard Manley Hopkins or Francis Thompson, I have no problem with it. But where it feels merely pious (even if pious with a witty twist), I find it anachronistic in the 21st century, whether it is White's Catholicism or Islam and other religions out there.
However in the fourth section, "Leaving", we keep the polish and wit while moving into the time of chemo, dementia, losing a life companion to old age... This section is far more profound, unflinching, as it considers life in sickness or supporting someone else in sickness, as a widow or as a widower, lives ending with regrets or with acceptance.
Religion comes in here too, but in a way that is not about a particular belief, but about universal experiences. In "Anecdotal Evidence" she ends with "Yet when my mother died, my father said / that just before the chill that would not thaw, / her face lit up with joy at what she saw." I suspect that anyone who lives long enough will experience some event that provides powerful personal evidence of something beyond our normal understanding. This is a well-argued poem to support that concept.
In "How I Spend My Time Since You Died", she writes "Tuesdays, I brood about / the existence of God and the soul. / If I didn't limit this to one day, / it could take over the entire week." (OK, so that's not really formal verse...) But that is the extent of the religion in the poem.
And the last poem in the book, "At the Burial of an Abbess", deals with the dying not just of an individual in the winter, but of an entire religious Order: "We age and die, we fill our space / and no one younger takes our place. (...) The work of all our lifetime lets / us look on death with no regrets: / we vanish as the snow forgets."
It is an extremely satisfying collection, and delightful in growing in depth and maturity as you read through it.
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