Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Reader's Diary #231- Bronwen Wallace: Common Magic (up to "Dreams of Rescue")

Believe it or not, I did not set out to make this "Wallace Month" or anything. The fact that I'm concurrently reading Dillon Wallace and Bronwen Wallace is pure coincidence (in fact, I didn't even realize it until I sat down to write this posting). Magic? Nah.

If I had blogged about this book just 4 or 5 poems ago, my review probably would have seemed harsher. It's not that the poems are suddenly getting better, I'm just now adapting to her writing and seeing that they aren't bad. In fact their quite good. My only problem is

Wait, before I get to that, I should let you know. I'm not a bag fan of The Sound Of Music. And before anyone suggests that it's one of those movies you either love or hate, you're wrong. I thought it was okay, just too long. Personally, I thought it should have ended when Maria finally kissed the Captain in the gazebo. The rest, the part with the nazis, was good too, but could have been The Sound of Music, Part II or something. So now that my opinions can be written off as those of a complete and utter moron, I shall get back to Wallace's Common Magic...

Wallace's poems like The Sound of Music, are simply too long. On a few occasions, I found myself getting to the end of a page thinking, "Brilliant!". But then I'd turned the page. The poem, it seemed, kept going. The latter halves, more often than not, just didn't seem to add anything.

Still it is a good read. Written in a very personal voice, it could be very comforting book for anyone at a self-analyzing stage in thon life. But more importantly, there's a lot of great imagery. Lately I've been lucky to find very strong imagery in the poems I've read and Wallace is no exception. Written as a woman who works with troubled, delinquent boys, she says they remind her
"[...]of that game she used to play
at the cottage, in August, when there was nothing
left to do: hauling waterlogged wood
out of the bay, to push it
over the edge of the dock,
watch it sink again
into the thick, dull water."

What a great image to represent her sense of deflation and being stuck in a rut without saying she was deflated and stuck in a rut. Thick, dull, waterlogged- the sounds, the connotations, all come together to represent her impression and emotions better than any literal essay could. This is what poetry is about and why it can be a fantastic art form.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I do like "thick, dull water" - you can almost hear the wood hitting it.

John Mutford said...

Yes, it's a nice touch for sure. Not all that optimistic, or flattering of the boys to whom she's refering, but it captures her feelings anyway.