Poetry Feed


FragmentsFragments by KP Moon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Don't love me like a fire;
even the wildest flames can die.
Love me like the ocean;
endless and free from constraint."

I like that image, "Love me like the ocean." This debut book of poems from "Middle-of-Nowhere, Kansas" contains some images the remind me of Ocean Vuong.

The poem "Itsy Bitsy" is about seeing a spider crawling on the wall and wondering where it comes from. When it starts there's both an innocent wonder and some sense of dread. The images are really strong--"Where could I go to/ to build a web for one?" And the poem ends with a shock.

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The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

The Collected Poems of Emily DickinsonThe Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"I live on dread; to those who know
The stimulus there is
In danger, other impetus
is numb and vital-less."

Back during the spring quarantines I read a lot of poetry and decided that it was finally time to tackle Emily Dickinson. 2020 seemed to be a good year for her sensibility.

But if American poetry is divided between fans of Whitman and fans of Dickinson, then I'm clearly in Walt's camp.

While there are obviously poems I liked and which were profound, her style just didn't excite, animate, or resonate with me like many other poets I read.

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The Age of Anxiety

The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque EclogueThe Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue by W.H. Auden
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I read The Age of Anxiety because it was discussed in a book I read back in May about how Christian intellectuals had grappled with the crisis of the Second World War. This is a very strange poem, and most of the time I wasn't sure what to make of it. There were some good lines here and there. It does have a reputation for expressing the anxiety of its age, which I trust it does. But I didn't find much that I could make use of in our own anxious time.

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Whence and Whither

Whence and Whither: On Lives and LivingWhence and Whither: On Lives and Living by Thomas Lynch
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A collection of lectures, essays, and stories and, as such, varied in quality. There are some witty, provocative, insightful images and phrases, but not the overall substance I had hoped for.

His discussion "Red Wheel-Barrow" by William Carlos Williams is itself worth the price of the book. That discussion made me cry.

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The Half-Finished Heaven

The Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas TranströmerThe Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Tranströmer by Tomas Tranströmer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"But the journey visits me. In these days when I am pushed farther and farther into a corner, when the tree rings widen, when I need reading glasses. Many more things happen than we can carry. There is nothing to be astonished about."

I wish I'd read this volume back in late March or the month of April because I think it's meditations would have resonated more deeply with the experiences of the time. Consider a line such as "the deep that loves to invade humanity without showing its own face."

But I think I'm not in as heavy a mood right now.

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Four Quartets

Four QuartetsFour Quartets by T.S. Eliot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"In the uncertain hour before the morning
Near the ending of interminable night
At the recurrent end of the unending . . ."

I often battle insomnia and even moreso in recent weeks with it occurring almost every night. In the wee hours of this morning I decided to start Eliot's Four Quartets and didn't put it down. I regret not having read it before, but it is also fitting for the time in which we live.

A time when we are having trouble making sense of time. When we wonder if our past is forever past, what our future might be, and how long this present full of waiting and suspension will last. These four poems are about "the still point of the turning world." Melancholic, humble, and hopeful reflections on time.

Back in college I read The Waste Land but have only since then read an Eliot poem or passage here or there when it appeared in some anthology or book. Recently I read The Year of Our Lord 1943 which focused on a handful of Christian thinkers trying to make sense of the crisis of the Second World War and to imagine what might come next. Eliot was one of the thinkers featured in the book and much attention was paid to this book. So, since I've been bingeing poetry this pandemic, I ordered it to read. And am quite grateful I did.

Of course, I should end this review with the most famous lines from the book,

"All shall be well, and
All manner of thing shall be well."

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