From Bane, a debut collection of emotional love poems.
Over the course of more than 200 pages of poems, arranged alphabetically, the narrator professes enamored feelings for a beloved, expresses gratitude for the love they share, and details the ache of absence. These devotional love poems are written in first-person rhyming quatrains with a hypnotic, rhythmic quality. In an idyllic, magical landscape bordered by waves and home to rainbows and moonbeams, the beloved is compared to many forms: a star, an angel, a missing puzzle piece, a rose: “In the distance is the sunset, / Colored in pastels of red and blue. / This mystery on the horizon / Made me think of loving you.” This bubble of romantic enchantment is a world where dancing is encouraged, memories are always good, and a pot of gold is discovered in every kiss. The love felt by the narrator and the beloved is a fated and forever love. “Fate brought us together / When we never expected to be. / A kiss so tender on a blissful night— / The beginning of you and me,” begins the poem “Forever Us.” In this space, love conquers all and is the key to unlocking new blessings daily. Spirituality also plays a role, and God makes frequent appearances: “The treasure in every day / Is to cherish all that’s real: / The touch of God within us / And His blessings that we feel.” As familiar as this lovey-dovey language will be to anyone who has fallen hard for a seemingly perfect partner, the repetitive nature of the rhyming scheme and the constant recurrence of the same symbols (heaven’s door, rainbows, sunshine, dreams) grow tiresome. These are trite poems with little of the grit and sacrifice and scars inherent in love lived in reality. Excellent physical descriptions—“Your coat is woven with golden threads / From strands of angel’s hair,”—are the highlights of the collection.
A seemingly endless book of nearly identical poems on romantic idealism.
A complex work of poetry about seeking one’s rightful place in the world.
Poets have long used the topics of arrival and departure to explore feelings of belonging. In this debut book, Dutt gives us a glimpse into what a foreigner’s arrival to the United States looks like: “how to then shed this skin / wrapped since youth / how to speak American / when we arrive / without our imagination / to bring down bodies.” This sense of displacement festers in this book, which effectively presents a portrait of a family lost between two cultures and two generations: “We can’t talk / about what we did how sometimes it’s different / from the way it’s shown but they think they know / and we can’t tell them we can’t even tell each / other.” The family systematically struggles with preconceived notions that some Americans have about the Indian population. This subject matter is nothing new, especially in the modern era, but thankfully, Dutt’s collection is a productive contribution to a conversation about inclusion and tolerance and not a rehashing of stereotypical attitudes. Despite the tumult of arrival in a new place, daily life is shown to function as prosaically as it did before. In “Over Cider and Whiskey in Hotel Rooms,” the speaker compares the generational gap that exists between her and a figure who appears to be her son. The poem builds as the stakes get higher, though it ends on a small instance of everyday life: “we’d be so annoyed / when someone would slap the car / to pass and cross // we’d all have to get out / and check.” It’s these moments, when the poems seep through the speaker’s humanism, that make the collection so gripping. And at times, Dutt takes readers by surprise with tragically poetic stanzas: “all those stones / go home to your country / my country? / where we are on any map.”
An exciting poetic work that lives up to its emotional and linguistic potential.
Callen (Running Out of Footprints, 2013) offers a quaint, playful collection of poetry and prose that spans nearly 50 years of her life.
The creation of “I Love You, Sun,” the first poem in this book, dates back to 1967; the closing poem, “Galaxy Girls,” was written last year. In between are 39 other pieces about nature, love, and the absurdities of Callen’s long life.Her descriptions of nature are filled with wonder and delight: “On a clear night…the stars hung rich and heavy over us, and it felt like we could reach out and touch heaven,” she writes about the Alaskan sky; in “Come Into Life With Me,” she urges readers to “Stand wild in the pulsing rain / and know the strength of its wetness.” Love is also a major theme, both romantic and platonic. In “Puzzle,” she’s intrigued by an unnamed someone, “And, fan that I am of wholeness / I grab you up in little gifted pieces / and turn you around and around / against the straight edges of my brain.” Callen is a talented storyteller who recounts many different scenes with wit and humor. In “Blue Moon Baby,” for example, an acquaintance details his daughter’s birth and the burying of the placenta: “He finally ran out of words, like a tightly spun top that finally came to rest,” Callen writes. In “A Wonderful Fantasy,” the author works herself into a tizzy anticipating an old boyfriend’s overnight stay, which ends in disappointment. “Never Enough” tells of Callen’s family as they struggle to calculate how big a batch of mashed potatoes will be required to satiate holiday guests. Only two pieces seem out of place in this collection: the grim “Time Twister,” which details the 1966 Tower killings at the University of Texas at Austin, and “Mom Visits,” an imagined reunion between the author and her late mother.