Skip to main content

Overdue Review

For some months, I have been intending to post a brief review of poet Bart Edelman's book, The Alphabet of Love, published by Red Hen Press. The book was published in 1999. It was new to me, however, in 2006. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Edelman's poetry moves lightly, lines flowing quickly into each other, touching depths without getting mired in same. There is humor here, too, seen most clearly perhaps in the opening poem for which the collection is named:

"A adores B,
But B is enamored of C,
C suffers terribly
From a protracted divorce with D
And won't get involved with anyone now;
However, C thinks E is fun
To help break the weekend monotony.
E seems mixed up
And fell for F
Last month at a dance ranch . . . . "


And on it goes all the way to Z and a classic "If only . . . . " that brings the poem full circle.

Edelman's technique is admirable. His lines are honed. He handles rhyme and rhythm with subtlety and skill. No prose masquerading as poetry here. And yet, some of these poems take us into stories, and some of those stories twist deftly at their conclusions, as in "Modern Man:"

"Standing on the ledge,
A floor above Wall Street,
Modern Man proposes
Love on demand--
The stock exchange of bartered souls
Immune to price control;
Here, the platinum hearts
Stagger to outbid each other . . . .


" . . . Aboard his sleek new yacht,
Modern Man imposes
Respect upon command;
His stern, stiff salute
Welcomes a somber crew
Who walk zombie-like
To their appointed stations . . .

"In the dimly lit studio
Across from Freedom hall,

Modern Man composes
His sonata of sand--
The grand plan--
Where he is saved in the wick of time
By the holy redeemer . . .
Free now to justify his life,
He takes a holiday,
But soon returns
To orchestrate his own demise."


Too long to quote here, the poem "Mark Twain's Cigar" is marvelous, a piece I think the American master would appreciate were he here to read it today. "The Crow's Nest" is one of my favorite poems in the collection, highly evocative and multinivel in its meaning.

"When a lonely crow
Measures the black stars
Against a dark sky,
Nothing can safely pass
Between night and sleep."


"The Great Dark" is a poem that also treats "the alphabet of love," although in a completely different vein from the opening poem. It ends with:

"And, still, there's no guarantee
That what we see
Illuminates the great dark.
Could the firefly speak,
She would reveal
The story of her life,
Where day becomes night
With just the sudden flick
Of an internal switch.
If only it were that simple
For the rest of us,
Caught somewhere in midair,
Flying through the gloom--
Our fluorescent search begun,
Love's labor never done."


*
For more information on Bart Edelman, click here and/ or here.
Excerpts from poems, copyright 1999, Bart Edelman. All rights reserved.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Life without Television, Part 2

I began life without television with relief, which was consistent Monday through Friday. The first few weekends, though, felt awkward, anxious, lonely. When PBS has good programming on Saturday nights, it is extraordinarily good. Father Brown, Phryne Fisher, New Tricks... Extraordinary acting, high production values, and I fantasize about the pudgy, brilliant priest just perhaps having an innocent crush on one of his special parishioners, which would be moi. 

I called a friend one Sunday. "Maybe television helped with my anxiety more than I realized," I said. She told me about her aunt who, after her husband's death, kept the television on in his "man cave" 24/7. He has been gone years now. The television goes on, everlasting, in his absence. I don't blame her. Much of my frequent and prolonged television viewing began with grief.

After my sister died, I would watch almost anything, especially late at night when sleep eluded me. I even watched Convoy with …

Our Texas, My Texas: "Memories we carry like scars and diamonds"

This post title includes a quote from Hermine Pinson's poem, "Four Sisters and the Dance." As you read, it will become clear why.

I was 7 when my father earned his Ph.D. from Duke. He then accepted a teaching position at a small private college in a rural Texas town in the 1960s. Population was 5,000, give or take a few. Our Texas roots ran deep, and we saw this return to the Lone Star State as a homecoming. So, I left the lyrical landscape of the Carolinas and the small private school where I had become nearly fluent in French. Then, I entered the hot, dry world of that small town. 

We did not yet have a place to live. Our family of five, including our infant brother, camped out in the girls' dorm for several weeks. Our furniture was stored on the university theater stage while my parents searched for a home. I was riding in the car with my dad and a member of the university administration and overheard their conversation. My father wondered where he could find help …

Thank you, Press Women!

My blog won first place in personal blog writing for 2014 in the Press Women of Texas's Communications Contest. Afterward, my blog placed second in personal blog writing nationwide in the National Federation of Press Women's Communications Contest. I can't adequately tell you what these awards mean to me, but I feel impelled to try.
From the NFPW website:
On May 6, 1937, 39 women from seven states gathered at the Chicago Women's Club to turn their vision into reality. They formed the National Federation of Presswomen (yes, then it was one word) and set forth their goals: "To provide a means of communication between woman writers nationally; make possible the expression of a common voice in matters of national interest to press women, and otherwise advance the professional standards of press women."

It was brave enough for women to found such an organization in any decade prior to 1970, but this group was founded at the height of the Great Depression. It grew to …