This debut volume affirms poetry’s power to help individuals communicate their most painful psychic wounds.
The literary critic Geoffrey H. Hartman writes of poetry’s ability to “read the wound” of trauma. Verse, he suggests, can help people describe their deepest hurts when speech cannot. Likewise, the journalist David Finkel tells stories of veterans who use creative writing to work through the tragedies they endured in war. Evans has similar hopes for poetry, and early in his new collection, he recalls a time when “writing in generalized terms was therapeutic.” If he were to move past his own pain, the “imperative was to write. And, upon reflecting on the trauma(s), words overflowed from an esoteric place.” The result of that overflow is a slim, often potent gathering of verse that testifies to poetry’s capacity to heal. Sometimes Evans addresses his efforts to recover in very direct ways. Thus does he give readers “Waiting for my Therapist,” which explains the benefits of the psychiatric relationship: “You see, / I embrace this sacred space. / It never denies its truth, / The most intimate vulnerability / That lies in ruins as artifacts.” In this piece, therapy is an excavation of the soul, a digging up of broken secrets—or perhaps of the secrets that break individuals. But here also, Evans gets at one of the collection’s central themes: expressing pain is hard, and people often need help. So sometimes a counselor might aid them; at other times, writing can do the job. This insight drives another moving piece, “Too Many Voices, and yet, Not Enough!” This poem opens with “Have you felt / you had no voice? / Well, then, recall / an army of principles / and Paine’s recourse, / the genius of the pen! / … in this vista of meter— / I drew my pen. / And, I began to write.” Here, of course, is the poet’s hope for the traumatized—that the voiceless might be given voice.
Compelling and stirring pieces that explore poetry’s healing abilities.