Friday, November 20, 2009

Atlas: Poems by Katrina Vandenberg

atlasI'm left sort of speechless by Katrina Vandenberg's beautiful collection of poetry, Atlas. I don't know that I've ever been moved by words the way that I was moved by these poems. If I could read a new Vandenberg poem every day for the rest of my life, I think I'd be happy. Or I may just reread some of these every day for now on. They're that good. I found myself just weeping by the end of this collection, just totally overwhelmed by the beauty of her poetry. Poetry is a long lost friend of mine that has been recently rediscovered. I used to write quite a bit of it as a teenager and in my early twenties. I fell in love with it after discovering Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton. Those were my original favorite poets. Lately, I've come to appreciate some of the more modern poets and it was the always wonderful Nymeth who brought this collection to my attention. Katrina Vandenberg has given us all a gift with this collection. It's broken down into sections and each section tells it's own story. The collection as a whole actually tells it's own story, almost like a novella in poetry...a lifetime in poems. But it's more than that. Perhaps one of the most touching poems in this collection is Tulipomania. It's here that Vandenberg crushes you for the first time and you don't see it coming. And she tells us the story of hemophilia, the love of blood, a disease that has claimed the lives of many sadly has resulted in many of it's victims having HIV due to poorly done blood transfusions. Not all of Vandenberg's poems are crushing and sad, some are bittersweet, some are joyous, some are just very reflective. But they are all so moving. And the collection itself comes to a point where it is just so overwhelmingly powerful that I had to put it down for a second. I've never had that happen with a piece of literature or poetry before. Where I was literally so overcome by the beauty of the writing that I had to put a book aside. But Vandenberg has done it. I do so hope that she continues to share her poetry with us. This is a book that I will continue to read. Again and again. One of her poems, First Lesson: The Anatomist Explains the Primacy of Imagination can be found online here. I thought this was such a beautiful poem.

No comments: