Tuesday, September 16, 2008

#51 - Quick

For some reason, when I can't bike into work and am forced to take the subway (read: when I'm under the weather for various illnesses), I like to read poetry. The books are often smallish so they fit nicely into pockets and purses and it's a nice way to be eased in or out of your day. Anne Simpson's collection Quick was my companion for a good month -- as the days were far and few between where I wasn't riding my bike. I actually finished the book up the Friday of the September long weekend and simply haven't had a chance to blog about it yet.
The sky softens with the end of light. Reaching for something solid when there's nothing to hold. The woman slips deeper in the water, swims, snatches up her hand. A jellyfish has stung her. She gazes at its lurid pouch, fringed with cream: doll-sized weapons. Mute and deaf and blind, the creature glides forward as if this was what it wanted all along. Lifted on a wave, dropped on sand. A spilled sack. It'll lose its sheen, begin to stink. Later, a boy will poke it with a stick, just to see.


Did you think you could miss this part? Everything is sharpened around you.
The above is taken from the almost prose-like epic poem that makes up the later half of the book. "Ocean, Ocean" is a sharp and visceral exploration of human interaction with the body of water and its many metaphors aren't so much spelled out as inferred through the beautiful two line chorus that accompanies each one paragraph stanza. I was captivated by this poem and read it many, many times. The beginning of the collection wasn't as arresting for me but I was consistently impressed by the themes: the most basic in literature brought to soaring new heights by Simpson's wonderful poetry. Man versus nature, man versus man, nature in its most primal, effortless state.

I am ever glad to have ensured that my Canadian Book Challenge not only included the ladies, but poetry as well. It's not as if I have to force myself to read poetry as much as remind myself how much I love it. Funny, too, as I had a conversation with someone at work who mentioned that they never, ever thought about poetry, that they couldn't care less. I was saddened by this statement only because poetry, while endlessly important, seems to never sell as well as much of the schlock that crowds out the shelves of the bookstores.

Everyone should at least buy a book of poetry. I don't even care if you ever read it. Well, maybe I care a little bit.

READING CHALLENGES: Quick is #3 in terms of my For the Ladies Canadian Book Challenge.


Gallis said...

Does "Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein count? I also had A Child's Garden of Verse by Robert Louis Stevenson as a child.

And you know how I LOVED the poetry readings at the IFOA last year. LOL!

teabird said...

My newest poetry love is Emily Warn's Sabbath Architect - a snippet:

She is always flowing through
these flimsy tents of skin and bone.
Knit your soul to hers
as pine needles knit stars

She was an accidental discovery -
and now I'm off to find Quick !

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