I'm falling a bit in love with poetry again. For the umpteenth time. Not sure if it's the amount of time I have, or if it is more that I want to immerse myself in language again - not just story. Could be the mad rush of reading I've just completed for this weekend's LA Times Festival of Books (I've got another post to link to on Graphic Novels, I'll do that tomorrow), but I'm feeling plotted out and structured out and, well, poetry just feels right. Right now. Here's what's healing me at the moment:
If There is Something to Desire
by Vera Pavlova
I discovered this book on a lark as I was perusing the poetry section, casting about for something to recast the overly structured, overly plotted world I've been immersed in. I'll be honest: the cover grabbed me. Being a type junkie has it's downfalls & I do like a nice cover. Yet, a nice cover doesn't always = nice contents, so I'm oh so happy to find that in this case, the cover was just the precursor to more greatness within.
While this is Pavlova's fifteenth book of poetry, it is her first in English and I find that utterly fascinating. The language is so spare, so perfectly economical while also evocative that I'm in awe & a bit delighted & a bit in love with language again. She conveys much with just a few simple words. Not overly vainglorious (ha!) words that shout "hey look at me using these massive words in a poem that only has three sentences" - I hate that.
More than anything else, I find the poems in this collection to have just the balance of warmth, wit and wisdom I'm seeking right now. Not overly cynical, but a clear-eyed look at the world as it is, a desire to appreciate what we can, a nudge to enjoy life for what it is, a demand to make more out of it than we currently are. I might be heaping too much upon Pavlova, but that's what I'm getting out of this slim volume at the moment. I realize I may be projecting.
The Book of Questions
by Pablo Neruda
Not mind-blowingly original, I know. Yet I find myself coming back to Neruda again and again. While I've read many of Neruda's poems throughout the years (and read more criticism and biographical works about his work), I've never taken up the infamous Book of Questions. My current need for spare language and big ideas seemed perfectly suited to the themes of this volume, to the big questions asked and not answered. Such as:
Is the sun the same as yesterday's
or is this fire different from that fire?
Will our life not be a tunnel-and-
between two vague clarities?
And why did cheese decide
to perform heroic deeds in France?
What I've found so far is that this volume is less about poetry for me and far more about taking time - and creating the space - to think. Really think. Neruda's questions have slowed my pace and has somehow gotten me back to a more contemplative (if sometimes cheeky) mode...the very mode needed for writing longer fiction. So, yeah, I'm digging Neruda at the moment. Again.