45 Books

Book 33

Blizzard of One - Mark Strand

Darling and I find ourselves going back and forth on the subject of poetry. I like poetry, I really do (I'm not just saying that) but I don't think of myself as a poetry person. You know what I mean, right? Poetry oftentimes feels like an exclusive club where debate and deep, analytical thinking take place. It's easy to feel like an impostor when you can't get with philosophizing about rhythm and structure... couplets and shit. Darling says this theory is pish-posh, that I need to get over it and that I am severely lacking in my poetry (as if we're deeply concerned about our classical educations). Okay, I admit it, it's true. I mean, I read all kinds of things and rarely have I ever found myself in theoretical arguments or debates or swapping observations with anyone other than Darling. I can just read it for enjoyment, as thoroughly or as superficially as I like! But as I stated in my previous post about Shakespeare, there's some sort of mental block in place. Something about it sounds more tedious than it actually is. In my efforts to really try and make this 45 books goal (it's a big push), Darling has given me a lot of recommendations for poetry books, plays, and novellas. After looking through the small stack of poetry books he set aside for me I decided to start with this Pulitzer Prize winning Strand collection, A Blizzard Of One. It's really excellent. I found one reviewer's insights particularly well put:

Strand's poems occupy a place that exists between abstraction and the sensuous particulars of experience. It is a place created by a voice that moves with unerring ease between the commonplace and the sublime. The poems are filled with "the weather of leavetaking," but they are also unexpectedly funny. The erasure of self and the depredations of time are seen as sources of sorrow, but also as grounds for celebration. This is one of the difficult truths these poems dramatize with stoicism and wit. (citation)

Really excellent. It's so beautiful and comes with glowing recommendations from Darling and myself. (Between this and the Duino Elegies, I might even change my stubborn ways and embrace the genre of poetry altogether.) If you have an affinity for poetry you'll love it, if you're poetry-curious Strand, as a contemporary writer, would be a great place to begin.

The first taste:


As for the poem The Adorable One slipped into your pocket, 
Which began, "I think continually about us, the superhuman, how
We fly around saying, 'Hi, I'm So-and-So, and who are you?'"
It has been years since you bothered to read it. But now
In this lavender light under the shade of the pines the time
Seems right. The dust of a passion, the dark crumble of images 
Down the page are all that remain. And she was beautiful, 
And the poem, you thought at the time, was equally so.
The lavender turns to ash. The clouds disappear. Where 
Is she now? And where is that boy who stood for hours 
Outside her house, learning too late that something is always 
About to happen just at the moment it serves no purpose at all?


Rachel Swan said...

So incredibly beautiful. I bought the book yesterday after reading your review (they really ought to be paying you...), and I'm excited to get my hands on it.

I'm definitely a poetry person. Most of my personal writing is in the form of non-structured, free flowing poetry - it just feels right.

Thanks for the recommendation, love.

p.s. I tried your pomegranate + vanilla ice cream combo - so delicious! xoxoxo

Emily said...

Perfect, I think you'll really love it, at least I hope so. I would love to know what you think/start discussions. I love the dog series more than I can tell you :)

Oh man, it's still my very favorite treat!