Author: North of Oxford

A journal of book reviews, commentary, essays and poetry.

Art Auction to Alleviate Hunger – December 3rd Live

 
From Hiram Larew 
 
Please plan to gather with us on Zoom to kickoff the Art Auction to Alleviate Hunger.   The event will be a wonderful way to celebrate creative collaborations between worldwide artists and poets as they help us raise funds for Feed the Children.

 

 
***   SATURDAY, DEC 3 at 2 pm EST US ***
 
Here’s a good 1-min video from Feed the Children about the event —
 
 
 
And, here’s T. A. Niles’ great blogpost about the event — 
 
Be sure to register to attend Saturday’s big launch — tinyurl.com/hungerartauction
Thanks,
Hiram
“Fighting Hunger One Poem at a Time” — Poet, Willeena Booker
 
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These Days of Simple Mooring by Florence Weinberger

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By Charles Rammelkamp
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In “My Very Own Opera,” one of the new poems in These Days of Simple Mooring, Florence Weinberger writes:
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            A cantor’s wail becomes a lullaby my father sang which kicks off
            Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody which triggers La Boheme, shaky
            bridges over troubled waters. It’s all in the shuffle.
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This is an apt description of Weinberger’s creative process, how her poems develop, the associations that drive her verse. It’s all in the shuffle, indeed. In another new poem, “The Prescription,” she writes about her doctor suggesting she eat something salty to combat sluggishness (“Are you kidding me?” Salt, after all, has been a no-no for years – bad for kidney stones, blood pressure, tissues and organs, right?), but –
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            It licks me back home
            to my mother’s kitchen.
            I don’t compare
            the slick of fat.
            I don’t care. I’m told
            to eat salt, to taste
            total recall…
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Memory is a key ingredient to her poetry. At ninety, Florence Weinberger has a long life to draw on.   In a poem from 2010’s Sacred Graffiti called “The reason I don’t visit your grave,” she asks her dead husband, “Are you still listening? I tend to digress.” (“God, I’d love to make a date / to drink wine with your ghost,” she writes earlier in the poem.) Digression is her crabwise approach to meaning, the memories that pile on one another like hamsters in a nest of cedar shavings.
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These Days of Simple Mooring includes selections from four previous collections, The Invisible Telling Its Shape (1997) Breathing Like a Jew (1997), Sacred Graffiti and Ghost Tattoo (2018).  “Mame Loshen, The Mother Tongue,” from Breathing Like a Jew, takes her back to her childhood.
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            Yiddish, my first language,
            you were given to me whole, your wild colors
            intact, your bent humor, centuries
            of bottled-up rage and richly-imagined revenge.
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The poem’s a memory of her father. She writes that she believed in him, believed “his dazzling litany of dirty jokes,” “his poker-player’s paranoia,”
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            because out of this avalanche of language,
            punctuated by deep painful rasps of breath
            as he battled bronchitis and then emphysema,
            still smoking those pungent Turkish cigarettes,
            came the rhythm of my poems, like hard slaps
            with an open palm….
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The rhythm of Weinberger’s poems certainly whacks a reader out of his complacency. “As if all the gods have slashed their wrists at once / your inexhaustible waters pour and pour,” she begins “Iguazu Falls,” an ode to the Argentine waterfall, one of the new poems. “Where are this century’s muses, have they abandoned their vocation, / are they hefting Berettas instead of bone flutes?” she starts another new poem, “”Renew Us to the Mercy of Lyres and Flutes.” Got your attention yet?  How can you help but read on?
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The poem, “Hitchhiker,” from Sacred Graffiti, quintessentially evinces Weinberger’s style. She’s driving her car past “one of those lost unkempt souls  / you see stranded at bus benches trailing / their parcels of loose ends.” Reflexively waving her away and driving on, Weinberger has second thoughts. The girl wasn’t a gang member, after all; she just needed a lift. Weinberger feels a pang guilt.
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            No sooner had I fled the scene,
            I began to play the game of what if.
            I began to take credit
            for that spontaneous kindness.
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“I began to play with a memory already receding,” she writes, “I can no longer tell you what she was wearing.” Memory and imagination conspire to create a poem that a guilty conscience inspired.
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Weinberger’s mother and father – her whole family – are never far from her mind. They are inspirations for so many of these poems, as are Judaism and art. “Mother’s Blood,” a new poem, is a memory of her mother’s help when as a young girl she began menstruating. “My Mother’s House,” from Ghost Tattoo, is a poem about her joy at tracking down the house in Ukraine where her mother grew up, though the actual house is long gone. The joy lies in understanding her mother’s childhood,
            what it is to live in snow and planting seasons,
                        what it is to dig into the earth, milk a cow,
            fear soldiers on horses,
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            drunken neighbors with mouths full of curses,
                        that’s still here, I feel it, her fear,
            I feel her here.

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Weinberger writes in “The Power of My Mother’s Arms”:
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My mother’s death changed the alchemy of food.
Holidays run together now like ungrooved rivers.
I forget what they are for.
I buy bakery goods.
They look dead under the blue lights.
I forget what they are for.
I buy bakery goods.
They look dead under the blue lights.
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“What’s mine was my mother’s first,” Weinberger concludes the poem “Whole Grains and Hard, Harmonious Ways.” “How do I spend these final years?”
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“Smoking with My Father” from Sacred Tattoo is another affectionate memory of her father, teaching her how to smoke cigarettes. “Years later
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a man in a Max Beckmann painting
holding a cigarette European style
reminded me how my father and I
bonded, when I was sixteen….
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A mother herself, her two daughters and their offspring also figure prominently in the poems. “My Daughters Tell Their Friends,” one the new ones, and “My two daughters drop me off at the museum” are two titles, the latter poem, from Ghost Tattoo, also highlighting Weinberger’s interest in art, as the poem weaves in and out of various thoughts, with Weinberger-esque association.
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These Days of Simple Mooring includes at least a half dozen ekphrastic poems, including “A Common Grayness Silvers Everything,” with references to Diane Arbus, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange and other photographers; “Unraveling Darkness,” which, like “My two daughters drop me off at the museum,” involves Mark Rothko; “Picasso’s Four Bulls”; “Ejaculate Trajectory I, II, III,” works by the transgressive photographer Andres Serrano; “Revisiting Ozymandias,” sculptures by Albert Szukalski; “You Remind Me of Someone,” Maria Lassnig’s painting, Du Odor Ich.
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Judaism and Jewishness are important themes in the poems as well. The rituals of mourning, of eating (“Let me fashion prayer from a piece of dough,” she writes in “The Power of My Mother’s Arms”), references to the Torah, survivors of the Nazi death machine, modern-day Israel. “Where I Was When Yitzhak Rabin Was Assassinated,” an elegy for the murdered peacemaker, is a memory of being in Las Vegas at the time. “I am in the city of chance, city of sham and amnesia.”
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These Days of Simple Mooring concludes with “Announcement,” a musing about a sort of DIY obituary, like rescuing her own memory: her very own opera, indeed!  Florence Weinberger’s unique voice and verse make for an impressive read.
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Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for Brick House Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. His most recent releases are Sparring Partners from Mooonstone Press, Ugler Lee from Kelsay Books and Catastroika from Apprentice House.
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The Girl Who Quit at Leviticus by Suzanne Rhodenbaugh

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By Lynette G. Esposito
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The Girl Who Quit at Leviticus by Suzanne Rhodenbaugh is a slim tome published by Homestead Lighthouse Press in Grants Pass, Oregon. In fifty-seven pages of thoughtful. irreverent, and unsentimental observation, Rhodenbaugh explores universal themes of faith love, death in addition to flowers in a mixed variety of poetic forms.
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In her poem, Religious Preference on page five, Rhodenbaugh presents two stanzas and an ending couplet that explores a relationship with God but suggests an earthy connection. The poem is evocative, focused and well controlled reversing the one who is face down on the ground with the worshipped God.  Are we talking faith here or is this poem suggestive of desire and lust or both? Word choices such as trough of love and manageable tick suggest animals and bugs which are not usually associated with love.  But the poem gives attitude.  The narrator in the poem is not just a beast feeding or kneeling, but a thinking being who is demanding. I like the clarity and form of the poem.  It put a smile on my face as I visualized God in tight jeans at a Biker Bar ready for game.
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I don’t want to feed
at the trough of love.
I don’t want to wait or stand.
I don’t want to kneel
before a prostrate God,
or a manageable tick
in a blurred white sky.
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I want a sky that is hot and blue,
God in pants, and full of the devil.
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In her StoryFlowers poem beginning on page fourteen, she gives the reader a series of definitions
that tell flower stories.  The first stanza titled Iris is just two lines.
Once I was all lips and tongue.
Now I am a fist.
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She continues this story telling through fourteen different flowers for example Petunias on page seventeen.
Droopy Daliesque trumpets,
until the sun plays them
up.
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All the stanzas are short in this poem and focus on an observable suggestion of a flower’s personality in the garden.  This is both a fun and serious poem.
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The title poem, The Girl Who Quit at Leviticus, on page fifty, begins at a day camp.
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A blue spot shone on the Methodist Youth Camp
Counselors acting out
Smoking, Drinking, Cussing,
sin blue as a saloon. …
The narrator, after observing the actions of the holy counselors in the first stanza, resolves in the second to read the whole Bible in one year.  In the third stanza, the speaker says:
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The Devil, who wasn’t big on Methodists,
never took me.  There was no Big Fall.
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In seven stanzas the narrator goes from a pony tailed girl who strays into other good books like The Black Stallion and The Return of the Black Stallion to a young woman who becomes more aware of life through reading.  She reads tales of mystery and slaughter, Into love and dark achievement.  Because of these other readings separate from the Good Book, she says in the last stanza:
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whereby I missed the angels,
and the pale horses of Revelations.
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The poem is well controlled using the common space and time of an innocent girl with a big goal becoming distracted with the love of reading as she grows up. The poem represents faith interrupted but not abandoned.  Rhodenbaugh has a light touch with a serious subject, and it works.
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Rhodenbaugh has an unsentimental approach to traditionally sentimental themes.  Her attention to both detail and form works well throughout.  The poems mix levity with solemn subjects which creates a question of how loud you should laugh, how quiet should you cry. This is an interesting group of poems worth traveling through.
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The Girl Who Quit at Leviticus is available from www.homesteadlighthousepress.com
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 Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.
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Under the Raging Moon – A Drama in Four Acts by Peter Thabit Jones

under

By Byron Beynon

The late poet and editor, Ian Hamilton, once wrote that “Had Dylan Thomas survived, he would almost certainly have claimed a role in the impending triumph of pop culture. All too easily one can imagine him on platforms in the 1960s. And television, it seems certain, would have reckoned him to be a natural.”

Peter Thabit Jones in his new play, imagines and skilfully evokes the last hours of Dylan’s life, as the poet visits the bars of Greenwich Village shortly before he is taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital. The play has a strong grain of truth echoing through it, amusing, poignant, and tragic; it unfolds, focuses, and brings alive those last, precious hours which perceptive audiences will appreciate and respond to with empathy.

In October 1953, Dylan Thomas is a sick man, and on his fourth and fatal visit to America.  He had a wife, Caitlin, and three children in Wales to support and, harassed by debtors, he undertook these tours to earn the cash to pay them. In America, whiskies (Old Grandad was his favourite brand of American whisky) became irresistible, hard liquor relief to push away anxiety, loneliness and exhaustion only made matters worse. His tour there had been organised by John Malcolm Brinnin, Director at the YWHA Poetry Center in New York.

The play opens with Dylan getting out of a taxi after an altercation with Liz Reitell, Brinnin’s assistant. The taxi is on its way to Greenwich Village, and Dylan, after a shouting match with Reitell is left to his own devices.  Alone, he enters the first of several bars, where he mainly meets people unknown to him. Conversations flow as he meets a range of New Yorkers, various bartenders, a young man who has just become a father, a middle-aged and wealthy company manager, a married couple, an elderly man, and various hangers-on.  In the bars he meets and speaks openly to all these people with different responses and reactions.

In Act One he’s asked by a young man “Do you like America?” Dylan replies “I have dragged my chubby body across the map of the American dream, New York to California. I have seen the inside of too many colleges and venues in my three previous visits to this new empire of giant refrigerators and cars as long as alligators. So, alas, my leisure time has been mostly in the nearest bars to wherever John Malcolm Brinnin, my tour organiser, has housed me.”

Throughout the play there is an active and imaginative slant on Dylan’s interaction with characters he’s never met. The play leaves one reeling with a sense of loss, helpless to save an energy and a genius with words, that the literary world lost at the age of just thirty-nine.

At the end of the final act when the poet has left his favourite bar, The White Horse Tavern, he walks several steps and sits down on the sidewalk, and movingly and defiantly says:

“I want to live. I want to see Caitlin again, to have her care for me when I’m unwell or broken one of my chicken bones. To hear my dear daughter Aeronwy and her friends trying to be quiet as they pass my writing shed. I want to see angelic-faced Colm and my dear Llewellyn. I want to live. I want to see my mother in her cosy widow’s home. I want to sit in Browns Hotel and hear the small town gossip from Ivy and see the happy drunks come and go. I want to live. I want to write new word-wrestled poems that I’ll boom on the BBC and on stages in America………..”.

Peter Thabit Jones has presented before us a play with a clear understanding and insight for his subject, with dialogue that is direct, alive and heartfelt.

Available from:

USA:
Small Press Distribution https://www.spdbooks.org

UK and Europe:
www.seventhquarrypress.com

Byron Beynon, author of A View From the Other Side and 14 other collections of poetry including Cuffs and The Echoing Coastline,  coordinated Wales’s contribution to the anthology Fifty Strong (Heinemann). His poems and essays have featured in several publications including The Independent, Agenda, Wasafiri, The London Magazine, North of Oxford, San Pedro River Review and the human rights anthology In Protest.

La Clarté Notre-Dame’ and ‘The Last Book of the Madrigals by Philippe Jaccottet (Trans. John Taylor)

la clarte

By Michael Collins

The late Philippe Jaccottet, winner of the Petrarch Prize, the Prix Goncourt and the Schiller Prize once claimed, “Everything – I think I can say this – everything that has given rise in me to a poem or a poetic prose piece has done so, it seems to me, because an opening has taken place in the wall of appearances; an opening through which, in addition, a happy light did not necessarily pass; what rushed through might have been frightful.”[i] This passage seems particularly descriptive of the meditations that make up ‘La Clarté Notre-Dame’ and ‘The Last Book of the Madrigals,’ his final, posthumously released works.

‘La Clarté Notre-Dame’ is a sequence of prose sections, spanning the final decade of Jaccottet’s life, that arise from and reflect upon one such “opening,” the sounding of a unique chapel bell:

I’d never heard a tinkling—prolonged, almost persistent, repeated several times—as pure in its weightlessness, in its extreme fragility, as genuinely crystalline . . . Yet which I couldn’t listen to as if it were a kind of speech —emerging from some mouth . . . A tinkling so crystalline that it seemed, as it appeared, oddly, almost tender . . . Ah, this was obviously something that resisted grasping, defied language, like so many other seeming messages from afar—and this frail tinkling lasted, persisted, truly like an appeal, or a reminder . . . (6-7)

The abiding experience accrues great devotion, a poetic inspiration that never finds verse form: “I must keep it alive like a bird in the palm of my hand, preserved for a flight that is still possible if one is not too clumsy, or too weary, or if the distrust of words doesn’t prevail over it” (5). The poet’s faithfulness is rewarded in continual and invigorating attempts themselves at reaching for the expression of the ethereal sound, ranging from a “limpidity which a heart would hardly be able to conceive, to hope for; and yet which would have enough power to act on a heart without any reference to its own nonetheless undeniable origin” to a synesthesia resonant with myth: “I had to think of morning dew that would be—as in a fairy tale—winged, and metamorphosed into aerial sounds . . . ” (13). A humble resilience results from this ongoing practice of linguistic devotion to the ultimately unsayable, yet even this modest dignity rests upon the mere possibility of his own life being somehow akin to the mysteries of his own reverence: “Would thus my life, so close to the end, at last discover itself to be an appearance of sense as fragile, yet also as persistent as all those signs of which I would have been the gatherer, the ‘re-gatherer’, and the too-clumsy interpreter?” (14)

All of these gentle considerations are confronted and threatened throughout the work by the rising drone of mindless cruelty that pervades the same world, represented by the recurrent figure of a man being released from a Syrian prison while hearing the screams of those still being tortured:

Therefore reduced, at the very end of my life’s path, to staggering between two aspects of my experience, at least both of them being indubitable: the gathering of signs, which is almost all my poetry, with the last sign received, this year still, as the starting point of these pages—all those signs whose singularity is to be minute, fragile, barely graspable, evasive yet undoubtful, indeed quite the opposite: very intense; in the final reckoning, the most precious things that I will have received in my life, without my having looked or even hoped for them. And on the other hand, the growing fright of one who walks in a corridor of a prison in Syria and will never be able to efface from his mind the screams that he has heard rising from the lowest circles of Hell. (20)

The fellowship of past poets, readings of their work and the memories it framed, provides recurrent and essential succor:

Defenceless, however? Not completely, because I had experienced those unexpected encounters as by far the best part of my life, some of them remaining completely interior or almost, and of which I perceive today that they were all oriented in the same direction, embellished with a mute joy, directed towards what Plotinus, as a rereading of Shestov has just reminded me, called the Very High, with the same terms that Hölderlin, all the same, still dared to call the Sacred, and even the Gods. Encounters sometimes prepared, without my being aware of it, by all those fragments of poetry which had come to me from all sorts of places, which were so well engraved thereafter in my memory, and which also proceeded, however different they were, in the same direction. (26-7)

Though these textual embodiments of the sacred may bridge death in finding the next generations, the awareness necessary to engage with them, in accordance with its own perceptive nature, circles back to its consciousness of the very evil that can only manifest materially because it is utterly unconscious of itself:

As for he who gets immersed in listening to music, with closed eyes, and imagines himself, for as long as he listens, sheltered from the worst; while this coat protects him no better than that of the snow.

Comes the moment of the torn coat, the torn body, and too often tortures with no thinkable excuse for them.

Comes the destruction with no remedy and of which one cannot speak without lying, without flourishes, if not those armfuls of flowers that merely mask the unbearable. (36)

The enduring truth, perhaps, that we may take from this “opening…in the wall of appearances” is the plurality of delicate, life-affirming synapses it fosters, in which both wisdom and innocence past are borne into the future:

I cannot help but notice, at this very late moment, as I write these already trembling lines, that here I’m touching the exact heart of what made me write, and which excuses, or in any event explains and justifies, all my repetitions from the onset, or nearly so.

To which responds the little bell of my childhood, the one that my father would ring at the garden gate…a little bell tinkling shrilly in the falling snow (34-5)

The sequences comprising The Last Book of Madrigals can be read as following the life of an intimation such as the bell, through a lifecycle – or several – within creative development that allows the inspiration to morph and take on new perspectives, as the title indicates. Here the initial life declares itself “While Listening to Claudio Monteverdi”:

When singing, he seems to call to a shade

whom he glimpsed one day in the woods

and needs to hold on to, be his soul at stake:

the urgency makes his voice catch fire. (49)

In a process that will play out in various ways over the course of the sequence, the speaker then moves into an imaginal scene in which the shade disputes with him:

              ‘I’ve no wish to be led away by your too-ingenuous angels,

but rather by those gentle women, even if they disappoint,

those merry ones suddenly—who knows why—so serious,

and we’ll take the white cherry trees for a lamp.’ (51)

The speaker first decries then incorporates the other perspective, merging it with his original one into a modified third:

would their way of leading astray also guide,

since they’d be the most faithful images

of the ephemeral sky?

It’s their gaze I gaze at, for quite a while,

to verify these landmarks for my future steps. (51)

As with the bell, the speaker enters into a form of dialogue with the place in himself where the “wall of appearances” has opened, and, as in ‘La Clarté Notre-Dame,’ this conversation expands over the course of revisitings to include the voices of imaginal characters, poetic ancestors, and mythic echoes. Within the psychic movements of the text, the experiential, living qualities of myth are consistently invoked through dialogue with the other poetic elements, the replicable nuances of perception, feeling, and reflection in which the reader may join the speaker. Take, for example, the conscious, felt rebirth of placing oneself as a small life within a vastness of voices and stories both ancient and present:

Then I raised my eyes: the whole wide sky

was around us,

with chirping in the stubble

like stars along the ground.

A last flight, like a trail of silence, was visible

and I said to myself: ‘So now we’re born again,

baptized by the long summer night.’ (53)

The fusion of stars and crickets combines unlike senses while also interchanging the grand and humble, the immanent and transcendent in a poetic gesture that corresponds with the larger moves between the speaker’s voice and those “other” voices great and small that the poems incorporate. This can be observed in more extensive imaginal developments throughout the collection as well”:

I believed that with its creaking wood and wheels,

once the day had snuffed out its fires, this chariot

would almost join the other one

where each of us would hardly have to reach

to gorge ourselves on ripe stars. (55)

Other images, perhaps indicative of communing with the past poets in a more direct way, reflect the polyphonic nature of “the poet’s” voice, its awakening of the textual voices of the departed concurrent with correlatives in the living world:

The streams have awakened.

The least clear voice intertwines with the clearest one

as their fast waters weave together.

So that I can be bound with similar bonds,

I’m happy to reach out my two hands.

Thus bound, I free myself from winter. (71)

The classical identification between poet and weaver moves from image, to mythic invocation, to refrain and extended metaphor as the poems unfold, the shifting between roles helping to facilitate accompanying movements of tone and perspective. Hence, in one poem Penelope “reweaves the blue cloth of the sky” in order “to protect us patiently and faithfully / from the black archer with his too-frigid arrows” (73). The colors in the weaving are then commended to “swift jockeys of summer, / wear them to glorify the invisible woman / who bet her beauty on your fiery spirit” (75). Spring’s affirmation of new life is the explicit concern of this weaving, the mythic renewal both fusing and expressing the invigorating feeling and sensation: “Who on those flaming benches around the arena would doubt / that living grace will triumph over a bundle of bones?” (77)

The intermittent use of second person and imperative draw the reader into the drama as both witness and surrogate to the speaker’s explorations, perhaps a subtle way of this poet passing on his own legacy:

Look at the swifts:

as many wrought-iron arrows in the walls,

shot towards the four corners of the sky

when the summer evening falls.

And he who still writes on the last staffs,

perhaps, of his life:

‘That unknown woman fishing in her lightweight skiff

has struck me as well.

I first thought it sweet to be her prey,

but now the hook tugs at my heart

and I don’t know if it’s the daylight or me

bleeding in these pearly waters.’ (81)

The poem places the central perspective with the reader, through which the speaker views both his own mortality and, perhaps paradoxically, through it, his own enmeshment within the daylight and water as a vital and ongoing part of the life of the world despite the impending cessation of “his” consciousness:

There’s a beauty that the eyes and hands touch

and that makes the heart take a first step in song.

But the other one steals away and we must climb higher

until we can’t see anything any more,

the beautiful target and the tenacious hunter

blended in the jubilant light. (83)

As in the meditations of ‘La Clarté Notre-Dame,’ however, the perspective that affirms its temporary place in ongoing life is not at one with the voice located closer to personal mortality. In fact, one important moral contribution of both works is bringing the two into intrapsychic dialogue. Here, the birds carry the blurred projection of transcendent self and the shadow of death that it implies for the individual poet, through which he recovers his deep, unwavering vocation:

In the distance, the blue tents of the mountains

seem empty.

What are you sombrely scheming on your wires,

nervous birds, my familiar swallows?

What are you all going to take away from me?

If it were only the summer light

I’d willingly wait here for your return.

If it were only my life, carry it off.

But the light of my life, cruel birds,

let me keep it so I can brighten November. (99)

The movements between mythic macrocosm and imaginal immanence, in parallel with the reflexivity of speaker and addressee positions, facilitate many framings of this inner dialogue, bringing forth various moods, perspectives, experiential openings, and insights. In doing so the reflections weave together objective knowledge of the human confrontation with death with the mythic experiences of ongoing life in ways that transcend both poet and text, brightening Novembers for those yet to add their own threads to the choir of tapestries.


[i] Jaccottet, Philippe. Ponge, Pastures, Prairies. Translated by John Taylor. BSE Books, 2020pg 37.

You can find the book here: https://www.seagullbooks.org/la-clarte-notre-dame-and-the-last-book-of-the-madrigals/

Michael Collins’ poems have received Pushcart Prize nominations and appeared in more than 70 journals and magazines.  He is also the author of the chapbooks How to Sing when People Cut off your Head and Leave it Floating in the Water and Harbor Mandala, the full-length collections Psalmandala and Appearances , which was named one of the best indie poetry collections of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews . He teaches creative and expository writing at New York University and the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center and is the Poet Laureate of Mamaroneck, NY.

City of Shadow & Light (Philadelphia) by Diane Sahms

city shadow amazon

City of Shadow & Light (Philadelphia) by Diane Sahms has just been released by Alien Buddha Press. You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BMSZ8NV8/ref=sr_1_2?qid=1668816380&refinements=p_27%3ADiane+Sahms&s=books&sr=1-2&text=Diane+Sahms 

What Others Say About  City of Shadow & Light (Philadelphia)

In Diane Sahms’s ambitious City of Shadow & Light (Philadelphia) there are classical elements, the prominence of the elegiac as well as the lyrical and an oracular power that echoes back to Greece, yet remains rooted in Philadelphia.  The language soars—blooms, although with a dark undertone, illuminating the shadow and shading the light.  The meticulous pairing of the shadow and light allows the reader to explore the connective tissue between the seemingly unalike. Sahms’ syntax alone imparts a musicality and a dissonance to her work. Readers are jarred into a heightened realm of acuity.  Heroin’s inner arm of a clawing dragon/he never slew and Blue Heron’s Blue-gray architecture wades slowly, deliberately/leads slavish eyes knee-deep into still waters. They are yoked together like duets.  In her “Suite for Iris” the poet’s persona explores the world from the perspective of Iris who exists in the liminal zone of part human-part flora, a fertile intersection of the primeval and the reasoned. Iris, tall stalk before shears, /rhizome’s roots as heart’s arteries. Sahms’ often heretical visions push brilliantly into an unseen darkness.

Stephanie Dickinson, author of The Emily Fables and Big Headed Anna Imagines Herself. 

Wade into the mirror with Diane Sahms as she unveils and unravels identities—probing for meaning and finding connections. Different life forms fuse into a “universal soul” in these “heart shuttling” sojourns that sonically imagine the magic of “spirits united.” Morality and mortality yield their secrets in exhilarating lyric passages in which emptiness is purified via resolute perception and consequent insight. —Jeffrey Cyphers Wright

In City of Shadow and Light (Philadelphia), Diane Sahms looks upward to the cosmic, then comes back to the personal, in poems that are full of natural imagery and (often) mystery. The focal point is the “first city,” Philadelphia, and its inhabitants, particularly those connected to the poet. We meet ones who create and others who struggle. What brings them together is the poet’s care for each and every one. Through these poems, you will gain a new appreciation for a place and some of its ordinary (and extraordinary) people. This is an eye-opening, heart-tugging collection. —Thaddeus Rutkowski, author of Tricks of Light

Diane Sahms’s City of Shadow & Light opens with the loss of two sons and continues to hearken more challenges as the book unfolds. But as she quotes from Jung in one epigraph, dark shadows only heighten the brightness of light. Thus, the book’s ending of “light” is hard-earned, and the fortitude is as inspiring as the “brave Raven, who stole light / from total darkness // for everyone.” The reader is left gladdened that this poet managed to retain her voice and that, despite everything, that “voice, still sings.”—Eileen R. Tabios

 

City of Shadow & Light (Philadelphia) by Diane Sahms – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BMSZ8NV8/ref=sr_1_2?qid=1668816380&refinements=p_27%3ADiane+Sahms&s=books&sr=1-2&text=Diane+Sahms 

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Most Read Reviews @ North of Oxford 2022

Just in time for holiday shopping! Most read reviews as determined by the readership of North of Oxford

cas reports

Casualty Reports by Martha Collins

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/10/01/casualty-reports-by-martha-collins/

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All the Songs We Sing – Edited by Lenard D. Moore

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/04/01/all-the-songs-we-sing-edited-by-lenard-d-moore/

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A Poetics of the Press: Interviews with Poets, Printers, & Publishers edited by Kyle Schlesinger

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/05/01/a-poetics-of-the-press-interviews-with-poets-printers-publishers-edited-by-kyle-schlesinger/

smoking

Smoking the Bible by Chris Abani

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/04/01/smoking-the-bible-by-chris-abani/

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Contra natura by Rodolfo Hinostroza Translated by Anthony Seidman

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/02/01/contra-natura-by-rodolfo-hinostroza-translated-by-anthony-seidman/

varieties

The Flash Fiction of Lydia Davis

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/03/01/the-flash-fiction-of-lydia-davis/

upright

The Upright Dog by Carl Fuerst

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/06/01/the-upright-dog-by-carl-fuerst/

punks

Punks: New & Selected Poems by John Keene

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/03/01/punks-new-selected-poems-by-john-keene/

World's Lightest Motorcycle

The World’s Lightest Motorcycle by Yi Won, Translated from Korean by E. J. Koh and Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/02/01/the-worlds-lightest-motorcycle-by-yi-won-translated-from-korean-by-e-j-koh-and-marci-calabretta-cancio-bello/

GETTING

getting away with everything by Vincent Cellucci and Christopher Shipman

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/03/01/getting-away-with-everything-by-vincent-cellucci-and-christopher-shipman/

along

Along the Way by Scott Pariseau

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/11/01/along-the-way-by-scott-pariseau/

a feeling

A Feeling Called Heaven by Joey Yearous-Algozin

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/01/01/a-feeling-called-heaven-by-joey-yearous-algozin/

pool

Poolside at the Dearborn Inn by Cal Freeman

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/10/01/poolside-at-the-dearborn-inn-by-cal-freeman/

nosta

Your Nostalgia Is Killing Me by John Weir

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/05/01/your-nostalgia-is-killing-me-by-john-weir/

bar

The Bar at Twilight by Frederic Tuten

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/11/01/the-bar-at-twilight-by-frederic-tuten/

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Ten Most Read Poets @ North of Oxford 2022

Ten most read poets as determined by the readership of North of Oxford for 2022

Manasi Diwakar

How Dreams Grow by Manasi Diwakar

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/03/12/how-dreams-grow-by-manasi-diwakar/

dd

Layers of Blankets by Doug Holder

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/08/08/layers-of-blankets-by-doug-holder/

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Pandemic of Violence Anthology II – Poets Speak

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/08/20/pandemic-of-violence-anthology-ii-poets-speak/

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The Ballad of Morbid and Putrid By Sawyer Lovett

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/01/11/the-ballad-of-morbid-and-putrid-by-sawyer-lovett/

Topsy Turvy

Pandemic of Violence Anthology I – Poets Speak

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2021/12/27/pandemic-of-violence-anthology/

eric

Sisson’s by Eric D. Goodman

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/01/11/sissons-by-eric-d-goodman/

ryan

High Stakes by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/02/12/high-stakes-by-ryan-quinn-flanagan/

susana

Two Poems by Susana H. Case

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/02/12/two-poems-by-susana-h-case/

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The Game by Matthew Ussia

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/10/16/the-game-by-matthew-ussia/

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Two Poems by Kerry Trautman

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2022/02/12/two-poems-by-kerry-trautman/

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