Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Alphabet Not Unlike The World by Katrina Vandenberg

I waited for this book for over a year. I read Katrina Vandenberg's debut collection, Atlas, a couple of years ago now, and the poems from that collection are still fresh in my mind. They drip with beauty and with the esssence of what it is to be human. It's the book that I've given as a gift to more people than I can recall now. Mostly because I want everyone to experience what I did when I read that collection.

This collection is very different, though no less beautiful. It's the type of poetry that I don't usually fall in love with and honestly I had to work a little bit to love this one, yet in the end I loved it all. It's a book that studies not only life and the experiences that accompany it from childhood through the trials and tribulations of adulthood, but along the way, it studies language itself as well. And I found that I learned quite a bit about language! Something I wasn't expecting.

She expertly weaves lessons on word origins and clues of now extinct alphabets into her poetry with an expertise that I can't even imagine having. Which is why I'll never publish a book of poetry. I had to work to understand a lot of these poems. While Atlas was mostly full of raw poetry with raw emotion, The Alphabet Not Unlike the World becomes more complex and more intsense asking the reader to go on a journey with the poet and really dive into these poems.

Yet there are some poems in here that just brought me to tears. Some poems that had no hidden meaning or deep symbolism. That were just raw in their emotion, much as most of Atlas was. Much as what made me fall so in love with Katrina Vandenberg's poetry to begin with. I'm now just sad that I have to wait another few years most likely until I get another beautiful collection of her poetry. I'll leave you with one of my favorite poems from her new collection entitled "Earthworms" that I shared with a dear friend:

It is raining again this morning. I remember
it rained then, too, that summer morning
we lay crosswise on the bed, the curtains
grazing our heads, quickened
by the damp wind. Outside, the earth
was opening and the worms had surfaced,
blind. They have eaten every bit of dirt
that makes our yard. In bed
at night, we turn the story
of the child whose heart we never heard,
the child who never heard rain. And we don't
care, we let it surface - we open
ourselves, from time to time, to happiness.


Bellezza said...

Not a huge poetry fan, but I do appreciate your affection for this writer and her work. I'll have to tell my friend Gary ( of The Parrish Lantern) about this post; he loves poetry! And, both of you understand it so you're ahead of me. ;)

Bookfool said...

I think you desperately need a copy of Lucas Hunt's Light on the Concrete. It's so good.