Thursday, March 26, 2009

What Stirs - Margaret Christakos

i would like to use my first post to discuss a writer who i respect very much, because it is very hard for me to tell Margaret how very beautiful i find her writing. that is something i very much need to work on -- having the courage to tell someone "your writing moves me" or "your use of language inspires me" or even "i have a crush on your text". the Interwebs exist for this purpose: to say without saying, to expose without exposure, amiright?

What Stirs juxtaposes moments of transcendence with the 'mundane' (exposing the mundane for what it is or could be?): "The sun's opal leaked in" while "the babies whimper" in "Visual Splendor Coupons" is a good example of the beautiful language used to describe domesticity throughout the book: the hightened description of the moment of sunshine is not lessened by the whimper of the babies. Motherhood is both revered and real in these poems.

The repetition of images (opals, milk, breasts, visual splendor) draw the reader through the book, revisions memory of the poems, makes the reader think simultaneously "this is new" and "i have read this before". The connections ask to be made, building layers of meaning and association while the poems individually do very different things -- some intensely sober and reflective, others more playful, flippant even (see: "Sherry Mary's Friend Billy Bob").

i think what i love most about What Stirs is the attention it draws to the language, the texts, that are always present in the world. "The Birdie Went Down" and "Key Brain Chemicals" are "reclaimed", to use Margaret's word, from news sources, and "Something Inside Me" uses texts found on the Internets. Reading "(I Really Don't Think You're) Strong Enough" was an incredible experience as my mind started linking the references i recognized (Cher, Linkin Park, a camp song from my childhood) into some kind of narrative, while those that i couldn't place often became some kind of background conversation. But then, that's the way the Internet usually works, doesn't it? We filter.

What Stirs pushes against that filtering impulse, bringing the things we often (unfortunately) ignore to the forefront. It encourages readers to engage with things we consider mundane or unnoteworthy, to re-evaluate those designations. The poetry is rich, and deserves multiple lingering readings. i know that i cannot begin to do it justice. So i'll leave it at that, for now.

1 comment:

  1. i would like to add a note: part of me feels tacky and presumptuous writing about someone i consider a friend. i have resisted the urge to edit & delete as an act of honesty, and if that subverts my real intention - to write about a book i am enamored with - i apologize. i don't think i ever really thought about how the act of writing *about* a text can be as personal as any other act of writing.

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