EMMA LEW: ANYTHING THE LANDLORD TOUCHES
Shearsman Books 58 Velwell Road
ISBN 0 907562 92 2
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This page last updated: 10th December 2007.
|EMMA LEW: ANYTHING THE LANDLORD TOUCHES|
What do we mean by poetry? What is it?
Coleridge famously remarked that poetry is
Although Emma Lew is certainly not the poetic equivalent of Jackson Pollock, her work is far from straightforward or accessible. To illustrate this, here is her poem BLUE CAMPAIGN:
Flight and retreat and the male sky crying above me as I walk down bitter in the head. In the sonnets they pray for rain with beautiful fists, with beautiful thirst.Although it isn't always clear what Emma's poems mean, her work is full of atmosphere. At her best she is impressionistic — producing poems full of dramatic intensity. Here Emma describes the misty mysteriousness of MARSHES:
Sky a tent immaculately pitched and noon's ghosts are creeping across the paddocks. Low, lame winds grow in the rushes — the smoky pool mad in its sleep. I have found earth still adhering. I wait for storms to crack the glamour open.Emma Lew is highly regarded in her native Australia, winning two of that country's most prestigious literary prizes. Whist her many admirers may enjoy what the blurb on the back of her book describes as her sudden shifts of voice and perspective, I find her work opaque and puzzling. In her poems, more often than not, I recognise and understand all of the individual words Emma uses — but not to make sense of them in their given order. To illustrate my point here is FLOURISH:
I never bet on melancholy There's a parish in the spittle of an angry man Fame is the shell which preserves that thunder The late bloomer has become the talk of the town Truth is a jewel to avoid I'll show you a relic equally holy A beautiful plan, where everyone ends up happy and rich What I want is to get this pain off my body Irony is the rage that fails Look at me : I'm blind. I'm living a wonderful life I rise early and take the hazardous road The curse has fallen on me too, but in reverseMake of that what you will — I bet the Archie MacLeish of Ars Poetica would've been proud of her.
|reviewer: Patrick B Osada.|