Saturday, August 18, 2012

Review of Katherine Hastings' Cloud Fire/ 3 More Coletti Poems/James Joyce Reading "Finnegan's Wake"/

 Katherine Hastings' Cloud Fire (reviewed by Ed Coletti)

Katherine Hastings’  curiously named publisher, Spuyten Duyvil in New York City, actually provides me an apt leaping off point for her incredible achievement Cloud Fire.
 
“Spuyten Duyvil” derives from the New York Dutch and their “spewing devil” where “spui” and “spuit” involve the gushing forth of water.  However, while we have so much of water here, it is the fog-shrouded California Pacific, much better painted by a gentle sorcerer stirring rather than a fearsome devil spewing—less gushing, more being.  

Still, lest I forget, the book’s title contains both clouds and fire,

My city whose hair is a cloud fire

This theme of “hair” continues into the poem “Lonadier Rampant.  A poet “too near the bridge,” does jump, and Hastings, after painting Lynn Lonadier  crash from a cliff into the sea, then has her beloved San Francisco sing a final lullaby,

Lonadier  Your hair/Will be the last of you/To hit the sea/The city that saved you again and again/Rising swiftly/To still you/To sleep.

It is the City-By-The-Bay, shrouded and elevated by fog that provides Katherine Hastings (also the painter of her book’s cover) her magical palette.  She becomes the Whitman of clouds, singing of clouds

Fog-mantle on the breast of meadow/where voices from the emerald womb—feathered throats and bud bloom—sing through

I don’t employ the word “masterpiece” frequently, and never casually.  However, in the case of Hastings long opening poem, “Clouds,” I have no choice.  In it, I feel the spirit and depth of Hart Crane’s “Bridge”

How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest/The seagull's wings shall dip and pivot him,/Shedding white rings of tumult, building high/Over the chained bay waters Liberty—

And  Hastings on “flight,”

We do this like children or angels living/on the ledges of waves and lips, downy/wings so white they hum every color./Bees rolling in a white rose.

Cloud Fire works best read in one sweeping panorama from front to back.  Hastings begins in clouds, opens into complex life experiences and wraps up in a final poem also title “Clouds”  where, “In fog you are everywhere/and nowhere.”  Amidst the clouds and between them, the book exposes both the grime and glimmer of earth below as in this from “ O’Sidhe of Greenwich Street,”

...With one hand she catches a dove,/breathes it back to flight, with the other/turns the sizzling knob.

Were I to give you my reader only one bit of advice today, it would be to buy this book now.  Then take it home and read it through from beginning to end, and over and over.  It’s that good!


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3 More Ed Coletti Poems

A Trio of Triolets (tree-oh-lays)

Figuring that probably 95% of serious poets writing today eschew traditional poetic forms for free verse, I surmise that the poets who do at least occasionally try formal verse paradoxically could be termed today's "rebels."

I liken the "restriction" of such forms to swaddling a baby. The resulting security is a benefit.  "Restricting" myself to a poetic vessel seems to free the soul to pour its contents into the container in a way that is different from an uncontained beginning.  I've chosen the triolet which issues from 13th century France, is similar to the rondeau, was briefly popularized by Robert Bridges at the turn of the 20th century, and which can lend itself nicely to humor.


Triolet On Time

"For boys add to their woe by sitting still"
Was the best line of my youthful poem.
Now age and illness ask again why will
Such boys add to their woe by sitting still?
You’d think of this they’d had their awful fill
And, dreaming dreams of life they’d finally sow them.
"For boys add to their woe by sitting still"
Was the best line of my youthful poem.


Published at The New Formalist  September 2012

Triolet Of The Critical Loser

“Stick to painting, I don’t like your poems,”
Averred Cowboy Bob who I’d beaten in chess.
Perhaps he feared lofty emotions,
“Stick to painting, I don’t like your poems,”
More difficult work beyond his knowing.
Give him Kipling, McKuen, Edgar Guest,
“Stick to painting, I don’t like your poems,”
Averred Cowboy Bob who I’d beaten in chess.

Triolet From A Line By Eric Clapton

My darling you look wonderful tonight.
Your short silver hair, shining opal eyes,
When I see you smiling everything feels right.
My darling you look wonderful tonight.
Thought of your passing’s a terrible fright,
Loss of part of me, joy and wisdom dies.
My darling you look wonderful tonight.
Your short silver hair, shining opal eyes.

Comment or Read Comments Here on any of the above or below. If you do not have a Google account, log in under "Name/URL," (it's easy). Just the name (don't worry about the URL). Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at edcoletti@sbcglobal.net, and I can post it.

James Joyce Reading Anna Livia Plurabelle Section from Finnegan's Wake

3 comments:

Luci said...

What a treat to get a breath of California Air (and Katherine hair) here in the ever -C Montreal. Did not think I would wax so nostalgic but my west coast roots, once replanted hold strong.
As for books in the hand, there definitely worth more than in a kindle.

luci said...

correction "As for books in thehand, they are definitely worth more than in a kindle."

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