Sunday, August 05, 2012

Cole Swensen, Stele

shadow call                                          when shadow fell
one walks so that                        the shadow always falls

ahead one is walking in order      and the grass is greener
toward the forest, it catches                          the last light

in the throat on a match                dismantles the pasture

the pieces alight and asunder                        the smallest
pieces tucked under the tongue      march off, the fonder

In the poem-sequence Stele (Sausalito CA: The Post-Apollo Press, 2012), American poet Cole Swensen has composed a book far different than many of her poetry collections of the past few years. For the record, her poetry collections to date include: It’s Alive She Says (Floating Island Press, 1984), New Math (William Morrow & Co., 1988), Park (Floating Island Press, 1991), Numen (Burning Deck Press, 1995), Noon (Sun & Moon Press, 1997), Try (University of Iowa Press, 1999), Oh (Apogee Press, 2000), Such Rich Hour (University of Iowa Press, 2001), Goest (Alice James Books, 2004), The Book of a Hundred Hands (University of Iowa Press, 2005), The Glass Age (Alice James Books, 2007), Ours: poems on the gardens of Andre Le Notre (University of California Press, 2008), greensward (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010) and Gravesend (University of California Press, 2012). [I've reviewed a number of these over the years. Click on Cole Swensen's name underneath to see previous posts] At least her past half dozen poetry titles have each been composed across the canvas of a particular idea or theme, with individual poems existing as fragments of a larger whole, articulating a poem-as-essay. Instead, Stele composes an ongoing sentence, a lyric binary of small repetitions in a suite of three. A suite of three, with nine pieces in the first section, ten in the second, and eleven in the third, and final, section. As the back cover quote by Norma Cole writes, “two eerily different musical scores.” Not that this is her first suite; the musical tone of Stele is reminiscent of her opera-laden Oh. Much like Oh, this is a far shorter suite than many of her book-length titles. With but forty pages of text, the first poem of this graceful and enviable little book sets the tone of the collection as a whole, a particular kind of doubling effect, in which one can read the poem as broken lines, or two poems in parallel. The effect is breathtaking.

from a distance                                         seems to be walking
and so becomes a man                                     and so the man

in his silence                                  therefore these hills and hills
in their ceaseless every surface              of the eye in its folding

and disappears an evening                               of folded hands
as if the folded hands                                     of the statue had

too many fingers                                making them look oddly
feathered and thus                                               so much less

contained or able                                             to be contained


diätplan said...


ernährungsplan said...

very good post