I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood By Tiana Clark

I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood By Tiana Clark

i cant
By Lynette Esposito
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I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood by Tiana Clark published by Pittsburgh University Press in the Pitt Poetry Series is an amazing collection of verse.
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The ninety-nine pages of poems vary in style, length and subject but are connected by a raw honesty that reveals stark truths. For example, on page three in her poem, Cross/Bite, Clark describes a difficult birth.
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          I was born into the world sideways.
    Doctor said.
            surgery to break my face
set it right again
              as f breaking were simple.
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 This poem represents a harsh beginning that makes the narrator’s jaw click like typewriter keys, yet she remains unbroken and thankful.  The form supports the images and revelations in this poem by having ragged lines on the right.  It suggests, among other things, like white sand in the mouth, an uneven life from the very onset and the uneasy decisions that are made from the beginning of existence.
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In the poem, In the Middle Things on page eighty-eight, the narrator is grown but acknowledges the desire for information on an unknown absent father.
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       My daddy   is what    is always   at stake   in all   my work
       I want to know if he is still                                alive—
       If he thinks of me as often I think of him.
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       I am still that baby, alone
       In the incubator, yelping    for more and more breath
       with moist, moth-like wings for lungs.
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       Only my mother’s name is on my birth certificate
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The poem skillfully uses spacing, and word groupings as techniques to emphasize the desire to understand where one comes from, who one’s fathers are and what that does to one’s lives.  Her images reek of longing and wondering.  It is a strong poem that is worthy of being read and read again.
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The book is divided into four sections, I Can’t Talk, About the Trees, Without the Blood and an Epilogue that has quotes from Muriel Rukeyser and Gwendolyn Brooks. This is a poet who is not afraid to quote other poets throughout the book as well.
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The book is the winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize.  Justly so.  The poems are consistently strong and complex.  The images are fresh and interesting.  This is a good read for lovers of poetry.
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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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The book is available from www.upress.pitt.edu