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DURA's StAnza 2021 reviews: The Tradition

Wednesday 3 March 2021, 19:16

Jericho Brown’s The Tradition is a sharp shock of a book. Daring and lyrical, this collection examines issues of identity, race and sexuality, all set in the backdrop of modern American society. Brown’s defiant ‘I’ provides an anchor for this collection, grounding it with a deep sense of intimacy. Addressing himself by name in the poem ‘Dark’, Brown shifts to second person to confront his personal struggles with illness during the writing process:

Consumed with a single
Diagnosis of health. I’m sick
Of your hurting. I see that
You’re blue. You may be ugly,
But that ain’t new.

(‘Dark’)

This Pulitzer Prize-winning collection stands as a bold testament to recovery, from both illness and violence. The poems began as an experiment to create a new form, blending sonnet, ghazal and blues to create the ‘duplex.’ Cutting up printed lines omitted from previous collections, Brown sprawled these fragments throughout his home and worked to piece them together to create something new. Innovation and breaking with tradition are thus at the heart of this collection.

Featherlight lines flutter and flow across the page, highlighting Brown’s eloquence even when depicting violence or pain. Although lithe in appearance, the collection is laden with symbolism and a richness of language. At times the poetry moves with a soothing lilt, others it is short and sharp, both exemplified in the poem ‘After Avery R. Young’:

Hooking and crooking or punching the clock,
It’s got to get done. That
Expectation. Stunning. Incantatory. Blk.

(‘After Avery R. Young.’)

 

This is an excerpt of a review by Jessica Stevenson of Jericho Brown's The Tradition. For more information on Brown at StAnza21, please click HERE. To read the whole review, go to the DURA webpage.   

Categories: News

DURA's StAnza 2021 reviews: A Map Towards Fluency

Wednesday 3 March 2021, 19:10

While A Map Towards Fluency might be Kelly’s first poetry collection, it shows an impressive imagination and originality. The poet is both partly deaf and partly Danish, though entirely unable to understand her mother’s native tongue, and she has incorporated both of these aspects of her life into her poetry, which focuses on the power of words and the idea of fluency.

As a Dane myself, I am particularly fascinated with her use of my mother tongue. A Map Towards Fluency includes everything from Danish insults ‘Se, en anden giraf!’ (look at that giraffe!) to declarations of love ‘Jeg elsker dig.’ (I love you). Kelly’s fascination with the Danish language can be observed in the poem ‘Ø’, despite it only incorporating a single Danish word. In ‘Ø’, Kelly talks about her yearning to be able to speak her mother’s native tongue.

I dream of Ø, wishing
it in my blood
as the English sound
that comes so easily, it is thoughtless [.]

The poem also dwells upon Kelly’s difficulties with the pronunciation of the Danish language. It is an emotionally charged poem, full of frustration and dissatisfaction.

Surrounded by a sea of white
Ø is what it means
but I can’t possess
even this small word [...]

 

This is an excerpt of a review by Maria Sjostrand of Lisa Kelly's A Map Towards FluencyFor more information on Lyall at StAnza21, please click HERE. To read the whole review, go to the DURA webpage.   

Categories: News

Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 383

Tuesday 2 March 2021, 16:36

When The Deer Come Down from the Moorland

As the last candle is dimmed from mass
a mile away we pass into Birkwood

One black dog on the hill called Barney
ghosts through the gate

Our feet find knots under the snow, soft
chests of heather, hidden rabbit doors

and there we come upon the saints, still
as a cloud, steam on their crowns, casting

a memory: a ballroom, a hall of skulls,
then Barney comes down and they scatter 

leaving a single note of snowfall,
a hymn distilled to its most hidden part.

Olivia Rafferty

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 382

Friday 26 February 2021, 14:04

War Memorial in an Orkney Valley

On its weathered spire sings a blackbird
a near silhouette              sentinel
in false light of the moon
its sonar song                  scans the stillness of the fields
and a melody of melancholy
lulls the lowing beasts to sleep.                             

Then           a reply
from the dusky auditorium where night is born
like an echo
scored with imperfections
leaves the blackbird thinking
is that friend?
or is that foe?

Andrew Velzian

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

DURA's StAnza 2021 reviews: The Light Acknowledgers

Thursday 25 February 2021, 12:17

Gerry Cambridge, nature photographer, essayist, editor and award-winning poet, journeys the shifting landscapes of life from Arbroath to Glasgow, youth to middle-age, natural and domestic, in this, his eighth poetry collection. His meditations on regret, loss and acceptance (among others), are captured with his characteristic photographic precision, and rendered sharply by the elegance of his own typography.

Cambridge alludes to the influence of Walt Whitman in The Light Acknowledgers. Light, as enlightenment, is the metaphysical conceit at the heart of this collection, which is paced in six sections, the first of which is entitled ‘a box of light’, and directly resembles the design of the book. Poems riff on poems, while some are companion pieces to Cambridge’s debut collection, The Shell House.

The opening poem ‘From A Stopped Train Outside Arbroath’ sets the tone with the ‘astonishing’ observations of the speaker (Cambridge) during a moment of pause, juxtaposed with the movement of light:

beamed across the world
and built again by photons with minute precision

on every attentive
or uninterested eye.

On the following page ‘The Nature Photographer’, elegantly contained (as many of the pieces are) in two stanzas, remembers the narrow focus of youthful self-absorption:

obsessional eighteen[…]
neck-cricked for the perfect angle, […]
in the small bright rectangle.

 

This is an excerpt of a review by Wanda Macgregor of Gerry Cambridge's The Light AcknowledgersFor more information on Cambridge's workshop at StAnza21, please click HERE. To read the whole review, go to the DURA webpage.   

Categories: News

DURA's StAnza 2021 reviews: Gen

Thursday 25 February 2021, 12:09

Jonathan Edwards’ first full poetry collection, My Family and Other Superheroes, was met with critical acclaim. It won the Costa Poetry Award and was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize.... Gen is full of the same warmth, good humour and originality that characterises his debut collection. The poetry collection is a testament to Edwards’ fascination with the quotidian. Rather than focusing exclusively on its author, the collection includes poems on the poet’s mother and father, famous strangers, people from the past, animals, and even inanimate objects. Edwards focuses not only on what he might know – for example that his mother cut her arm in 1955 – but also on what he can only imagine. After all, we can only imagine what it would be like to be a tree in a retail park. Gen is not limiting itself to Edwards’ own life experiences.

The poems in Gen are characterised by the poet’s imagination and mastery of imagery. Rather than telling us how his characters feel, Edwards chooses to present us with little moments from their lives. Reading his poetry is, in many ways, a visual experience as we get to see the scenes unfold before us.

These scenes are often nothing more than a quick glimpse, as the poems in Gen share a certain swiftness of character. Reading the poems out loud, words tumble over one another; an effect created by carefully chosen periods, length of sentences, and line breaks. An example can be found in the very first stanza of the very first poem, ‘Spring Song Sing Song’, which musical and childlike title only adds to the provisional feel of the poem....


This is an excerpt of a review by Maria Sjostrand of Jonathan Edwards' Gen. For more information on Edwards at StAnza21, please click HERE. To read the whole review, go to the DURA webpage.  

Categories: News
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