OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “TAKING WHAT I LIKE,” BY LINDA BAMBER, “UNRULY,” BY ELYSIA LUCINDA SMITH AND “DEADFELLAS,” BY JON D’AMORE, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.
Since I’ve begun seeking collections of poetry to feature on Snowflakes in a Blizzard, I think I’ve picked up on a trend.
Or maybe not. Because I haven’t been paying close enough attention to poetry for so long, perhaps what I think of as trendy has actually become accepted practice.
I’ve always liked poetry, and have great respect for poets. But it always seemed that poetry was sitting off in a corner, calmly pondering the world and occasionally making a subtle or snide comment on the state of things. No, it’s not all about nature and true love, but it’s hard to imagine someone in a coffee shop saying excitedly: “Wow, did you see that poem about ….?”
From what I’ve come across lately, though, that might start happening. I’ve viewed poetry paired with fiction, with flash fiction, with memoir, with political statements, hybrids every which way. Poetry, it seems, is barging into The Conversation.
This past week, we featured Elysia Lucinda Smith’s “Unruly,” which most definitely was not a subtle take on love and sex. But it worked, and it crackled.
And now, this week, we have Diane Raptosh’s “American Amnesiac.” Here’s this, from the review site Rain Taxi:
“American Amnesiac is Diane Raptosh’s fourth book of poetry, and very possibly her best. She attempts something quite unusual with this magnum opus—one long poem spoken in the persona of an older [white] man suffering from amnesia. The book constitutes his stream of consciousness as he attempts to piece together who he is and what he’s experienced in his American life. His situation is laid bare on the first page of the book: “I . . . / woke in Civic Center Park three states away, four hundred bucks / stuffed in my right sleeve. My life has always been a flock of mishaps // waiting to take flight.’
“A poignant and interesting saga follows, page after page, as the amnesiac travels through America in and out of his mind, commenting on the meaninglessness of his journey and the story of his life that only comes to him in bits and snatches of memory. It is a skillfully written journey through the American cultural landscape, as our ‘John Doe’ becomes ‘a man missing a nation and a wife, strung up between a past / I may not want and a present in which I cannot make myself at ease.’”
“American Amnesiac” makes a point beyond just pretty or clever words. When you look at the chaotic American social and political landscape today, it’s easy to imagine that many of us are amnesiacs, trying in vain to remember what America was supposed to represent, and how we got to where we are.
Paired with this is Patricia Horvath’s riveting memoir, “All the Difference.”
“Diagnosed with scoliosis as an adolescent, Patricia Horvath wore a brace for three years and, when that failed to work, her spine was fused and she was immobilized in a chin-to-knee cast for nearly half a year. She had to relearn how to walk; more significantly, she had to learn to fashion an identity as a person who was no longer seen–and treated–as disabled. All the Difference considers the relationship between disability and self-identity–what happens to one’s sense of self when a physical disability ceases to be visible. Along the way the book takes in family relationships, class dynamics, 1970s pop and drug culture, mythology and fairy tales of transformation, romantic love, and the myriad ways in which women’s bodies are commodified.”
It’s also time for the First Tuesday Replay.
UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, NOVEMBER 7-13.
“AMERICAN AMNESIAC,” BY DIANE RAPTOSH.
Writes Diane: “I wrote the book after a number of decades of studying America. I started seeing so many disturbing patterns, having to do with growing income inequality, diminishing options for developing selfhood, environmental degradation, and white fear (One key line in the work is “Pale males will not have been the wronged minority / despite what they will no doubt come to say.” And here we are in 2017: the era of white nationalism. The book took about three years to write, but I had been researching the themes — studying how power works in the U.S. — for basically my whole life.”
“ALL THE DIFFERENCE,” BY PATRICIA HORVATH.
From Patricia’s template: “All the Difference resulted from my reaction to a diagnosis of osteoporosis while I was still in my 30s. I felt that my body had once again “betrayed” me, and the diagnosis re-opened many submerged feelings I had about my spinal fusion and bracing from my adolescent years. The impetus for my writing is two-pronged: vexation and inquiry. That is, something is bothering me, and I need to understand why. The “something” in this case was my body, and the need to understand my complex relationship to it is the source of this book.”
FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY
This month, we will revisit Persis Granger’s “Adirondack Gold,” James DeVita’s “The Silenced,” Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew’s “Swinging on the Garden Gate,” Susan Coryell’s “A Red, Red Rose,” Melinda Inman’s “Fallen” and Mark Pannebecker’s “A Fraternity of Fractures.”