It just occurred to me that I haven't posted any poetry and April is National Poetry Month!

I read this poem a couple of weeks ago when I found a used copy in a Virginian bookstore while on vacation.

The poetry collection is titled The Past Keeps Changing by poet Chana Bloch. Bloch was one of my professors at Mills College so I had to buy this book. (She's also the professor who introduced me to Gregory Orr's poetry. Swoon!)

Bloch's poem "The Family" unlocks a strangeness and intimacy that I like to see and read in various art forms. I'm also attracted to reflections of family and this one about a Russian woman and her nested dolls is quite beautiful.

The Family

INSIDE the Russian woman there's
a carved doll,
red and yellow to match her,
with its own child inside.
The smallest, light as a saltshaker,
holds nothing
but a finger's breadth of emptiness.

Every morning we are lifted
out of each other,
arms stiff at our sides.
In the shock of daylight
we see our own
varnished faces everywhere.

At night we drop back
into each other's darkness.
A tight round sky
closes over us
like a candle snuffer.

We sleep
starting at the inside.

The POV shift is interesting...almost like a narrator in the first stanza but when the story opens up, when the dolls are lifted and released, we are given their voices (their voices as one-- as "we") in the remaining stanzas.

The line breaks are brilliant. I love:
Every morning we are lifted
out of each other,

At night we drop back
into each other's darkness.
A tight round sky
closes over us

and the last two lines are hushed but so powerful that they're suffocating.
We sleep
staring at the inside.

Takes my breath away! :) Happy poetry month!
scififanatic: (Dandelion)
( Apr. 12th, 2009 11:43 pm)
I feel reborn. My nine days in Virginia were wonderful but I don't think anything can top the experience of meeting poet Gregory Orr. Some of you may remember one of his poems, which I posted a while back. I first read Orr's work during the fall 2004 semester at Mills College in a special topics course called "The Poet's Voice" taught by poet Chana Bloch. I've been a big fan since.

My friend Lori encouraged that I email Orr and I was glad for the push. Gregory Orr is so giving. We spoke about writing for nearly an hour in his office at the University of Virginia. He changed me. Not from a what but to a where. Our conversation was, particularly near the end, very personal for me. Orr opened my eyes and articulated so many things my heart has been telling me this year; having these ideas and feelings confirmed has helped me change my trajectory as an artist.

2009 is keeping its promises. I've got so much work to do these next several months as I continue to revise my work.


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