Heart First into the Forest / Stacy Gnall
Farmington, Maine: Alice James Books, c2011.
I knew I had to read this brief, debut book of poetry when I first saw the cover (gorgeously compelling) and noted that it was inspired by the darkness of fairy tales. I'm so glad I did, as it was a great collection to mull over during the beginning of this year's Poetry Month.
I shared a line from one of my favourite poems in the book on Twitter earlier this week -- anyone who knows my fixation on sewing can guess one reason why I loved this so much:
And when you saw the sun a sequin,
the moon a button shaped from glass,
and in the stars a pattern
for a dress...
(from Self-portrait as Thousandfurs)
This collection contains a variety of poems; some really dark, some a little more reflective, but always with something interesting in them. Besides the ones that are clearly inspired by fairy tales (Thousandfurs, Little Red Riding Hood, for example) there are two in particular that caught me. They're both concerned with perspective, and memory; one (Ars Perspectiva) looking at one of the poet's memories and turning it around to wonder what the other person in the story remembers, and the other (Accidental Outlaw) revolving around a mother's advancing Alzheimer's. It opens with a beautiful image:
Already, mother, I can sometimes see
a memory hanging like a hammock
in your head -- swinging between those
trees etched remember and forget.
Gnall writes with a simplicity that I appreciated; the poems are well-constructed -- they stand up to being read aloud or silently, and they are clear. While there is mystery and language play, these poems are not cryptic to the point of confusion. I find that I prefer to read poems that actually feel like they mean something -- I like story, not just sound. So I found this collection enjoyable, and I discovered a couple of gems that I'll remember. Well worth searching this out if you can, or even just reading, at the least, the poems online that I've linked to here.
Singing the Cannonball to Sleep
Bella in the Wych Elm
Self-Portrait as Thousandfurs
Trespass, The Insecticide in Him, & From a Dance Manual
Happy Poetry Month!