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Wed, Sep. 22nd, 2004, 07:37 am
inspirewithhope: Review (weekly): P. Redgrave & P. Shuttle, The Hermaphrodite Album

Plan & Schedule
Reviews of poetry from The Hermaphrodite Album, by Peter Redgrave & Penelope Shuttle, every Wednesday, here at Art Thou Communitas.

Review: Some Books, Some Authors, Some Readers

It's prose but it has poetry and soul.

I love how it describes the relationship amongst the three; and how authors communicate with their readers through pages, which "crumble like rotten wood between covers 
of bark". I love how they describe readers or similar to "boot-shiny beetles, very compact and intent", devoted to their "difficult dead books". This theme runs throughout the 
piece.

It's mostly about the authors though, I love how the paragraphs describe different authors, they're so individual and the descriptions are so vivid!

This one sloughs off his dead faces. ...
This one specialises in pages that become water as their white crests turn. ...
This one travels over sunlit waters in a shining tin boat. ...
My favourite description of an author, though, is this:

This one writes books you do not read because they read aloud to you.
I love the autonomy. It's a perfect description of how some books really come to life. I also love how it combines the author, readers and book all together in one succinct 
line.

The books of this one are like biting seaside rock. The same word runs straight through to the end.
Beautiful imagery.

This one makes books of stinking quicksilver. It is your own face you regard as you read, but the smell is the author's.
Again, the combination of, and relationship between, reader and author is brilliant; really great subject matter for a piece of writing.

The last paragraph has brilliant closing lines:

How can I evaluate or describe to you the plots of any of these books, or the information they contain! For I am a lover of books, and this is my misfortune; to 
tell of their worth is beyond me.
This is so appropriate; I feel like this so often (especially reading The Hermaphrodite Album!). But I think they truly captured the worth of books in the preceding paragraph:

Opening the covers of this one's books is like opening a stove that has not been lighted for centuries. But its clinker is thousands of pearls.
Which contains a great reference back to the idea of dead books - this stove unlighted for so long - but finally someone returns to it and discovers its hidden treasure.

Excellent.

Wed, Sep. 15th, 2004, 08:08 pm
inspirewithhope: Review (weekly): P. Redgrave & P. Shuttle, The Hermaphrodite Album

Plan & Schedule
Reviews of poetry from The Hermaphrodite Album, by Peter Redgrave & Penelope Shuttle, every Wednesday, here at Art Thou Communitas.

Review: Erosion

     Darkness is a power. She haunts with power.
     I begin to fear the pebble and its outpourings, I fear
     The blood of the nearby hills, the outpourings
     Of the rock. ...

Very effective use of repetition here and throughout the poem, as well as punctuation (or lack of it):

     And ponders thick earth earth wanders through, ...

     Tugged open as if by the hymns of mud mud sings, ...

It's a very strong opening, starting with this statement presented as an axiomatic truth, so you can't dispute or question it. I also like how they say "darkness is a power", one of many; which makes the statement harder to dispute too because they're not presenting it as the power, the one and only or main power.

I like how they personify the erosive powers or the hills or ground (I'm not sure if it's the active part of erosion - the wind, water etc. - or the passive objects of it - the hills, ground etc. - that they are writing about. I suppose it must be the erosive forces because they're talking about its power, but when they talk about fear both the forces and the objects (e.g. landslides etc.) would be cause for fear). It's immediately a 'she', not an it. Later they say "She makes endless soil", but it's still not clear if they mean the forces or the object because both make the soil. Interesting.

I love the description "the blood of the nearby hills", which I see as murky water spurting from a hole in the side of this great, craggy hill. There are lots of brilliant descriptions:

     The lurching pack of birds
     Bear mire-stings in their tails,
     They eat her fruit and make more mud.

     I admire
     The clean acid scud-bite of the enormous wasp,

     She was rock, now she is endlessly deep
     And too soft for thought:

This is such a beautiful, natural poem; it's full of the loveliest of images, it's so vivid and easy to imagine.

Wed, Sep. 8th, 2004, 08:05 pm
inspirewithhope: Site update

Summary
- New design templates (2)
- Updated design news
- Reviews archived

Wed, Sep. 8th, 2004, 08:05 pm
inspirewithhope: Review (weekly): P. Redgrave & P. Shuttle, The Hermaphrodite Album

Plan & Schedule
Reviews of poetry from The Hermaphrodite Album, by Peter Redgrave & Penelope Shuttle, every Wednesday, here at Art Thou Communitas.

Review: Have No Fear
I understand this one!

Firstly, it's really pretty and full of the most beautiful imagery. It's about the earth and the grass:
     anxiety
     lifted the christmas tree
     like green lightning through his skin
     his beard grew in jerks

I love the personification - the stubbly green chin of fields of grass, its generosity:

     to placate her
     he carries the gigantic apple-seed forward in two hands
     into the saint lightning

I like the idea of the grass trying to calm the earth; and it's interesting to wonder why the it would need or want to do so.

This is definitely my favourite Redgrave / Shuttle poem, so far.

Wed, Sep. 1st, 2004, 09:03 pm
inspirewithhope: Review (weekly): P. Redgrave & P. Shuttle, The Hermaphrodite Album

Plan & Schedule
Reviews of poetry from The Hermaphrodite Album, by Peter Redgrave & Penelope Shuttle, every Wednesday, here at Art Thou Communitas.

I want to write about these because they're fascinating poems. My first thought, however, was 'Ack! How am I going to do that? I don't understand them!'

Nevertheless, I'm reviewing them. Lots of focus on use of language, imagery etc.

Review: Shadow of Jesua

     A white glare on the horizon
     Ice or my heart or one of his jawbones

I like how they compare ice and "my heart", how this distant ambiguous image or reflection could be either and there's no easy way to tell which it is.

I like the unusual images - "ice foot", "unicorn root"; some of them are hard to imagine, others are easy to visualise, they're all so striking.

I like how the mood varies throughout the poem, it starts off chilly and distant, flits between wistful and excited and then ends relaxed, calm and peaceful.

     I light two candles
     one for the day
     blessing
     one for the night
     cursing

Sun, Aug. 29th, 2004, 09:24 pm
inspirewithhope: Review (weekly): Jan Heller Levi, Once I Gazed At You In Wonder

Plan & Schedule
Final review on the poetry collection Once I Gazed At You In Wonder by Jan Heller Levi. Sincere apologies for the delay with this month's reviews; have had severely restricted access to the Internet. Will try harder next month, honest.

Next month I'm reviewing The Hermaphrodite Album, by Peter Redgrave & Penelope Shuttle, from 1st September, every Wednesday, here at Art Thou Communitas.

Review

A Day

     A window in the bedroom is a photograph of a river.
     The it's a painting of a river.
     Then a movie of a river.
     Then a river.

from A Day

I love how the river comes to life, slowly; like someone gradually waking up and life becoming more real. I like, too, the framing of this river with the window frame around it; it's so picturesque and vivid.

I like the idea of sunlight "slithering along the lawn" and the uncertainty of whether it's just a brief interlude or if it's going to be a nice day. Plus, she suggests the idea of an indifferent nature - "The sunflowers didn't care if I wrote a poem about them" - and also how the persona feels the fluidity of time: How slow and gentle nature is -

     A single blade of grass could
     take forever

     to bend and rise up again,and we've got lots and lots of grass
     here...

from A Day

What with time being so elastic there's not enough of it to write about all the peculiarities and particulars of nature - "Maybe if I lived here ten years I / could" and "who knew you'd have to spend your whole life to write about / one day?"

I love how inspiration strikes suddenly, how nature draws you to it - "...running down to the river whenever / it calls me..."

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thu, Aug. 19th, 2004, 07:51 am
inspirewithhope: Review (weekly): Jan Heller Levi, Once I Gazed At You In Wonder

Plan & Schedule
Reviews on the poetry collection Once I Gazed At You In Wonder by Jan Heller Levi, every Wednesday, here at Art Thou Communitas.

Review
Some Other Where

Levi's really good at building up an atmosphere or feeling and that completely destroying it or subverting it with a few words (as you may have gathered by my waxing lyrical about it...). For example:

Oh, where is Romeo?
Ken, resting back at the pensione, with a slight fever.
Maybe diarrhea.


from Some Other Where

I love how she builds up the romance of this fairytale kind of love, so unreal that it doesn't make a difference whether it happened or not ("it's just the same"), and then reality comes in. First it's the in-laws and then her memory of her partner. By juxtaposing the mundane with the fairytale she highlights the point that Romeo and Juliet were never able to find their own everyday routine. On the subject of her in-laws, I love the lines: "my husband's mother suddenly becomes a scholar // 'I think Shakespeare made the whole thing up.'"

Wed, Aug. 11th, 2004, 07:24 pm
inspirewithhope: Review (weekly): Jan Heller Levi, Once I Gazed At You In Wonder

Plan & Schedule
Reviews on the poetry collection Once I Gazed At You In Wonder by Jan Heller Levi, every Wednesday, here at Art Thou Communitas.

Review
Best Cup of Coffee in Town

This poem is full of brilliant descriptions, especially at it's start: "We... // ...roll like a sweaty wave" and "the steamy shores of 6th" perfectly capture the weather, atmosphere and how the people feel, in bitesize phrases. I love her use of rhythm too, she uses different lengths of sentences to draw out the scenes (making you feel how haggard and pressed the commuters feel) and then she undercuts it with "Bam!" as the train doors open.

Another brilliant description is the coffee as a "thin / muddy swirl", nice; and there's a beautiful description of the coffee shop girl:

...she looks like she's had it up
to here with the truth. And she also looks a bit
brave and sweet, waiting there, for some more of it.


from Best Cup of Coffee in Town

Sun, Aug. 8th, 2004, 04:41 pm
inspirewithhope: Site update

Summary
- Jan Heller Levi poetry review (weekly)
- New design template in progress: Ink

Details
Apologies for the delay in posting the new poetry review, I've been doing a lot of overtime recently. Will try harder next week.

I love the new design template - Ink - and plan to release it next week.

Sun, Aug. 8th, 2004, 02:51 pm
inspirewithhope: Review (weekly): Jan Heller Levi, Once I Gazed At You In Wonder

Each week I'm posting small reviews on parts of poetry collections, which all come together in to a unified whole at the end of each month, when they're archived as one commentary at the Art Thou site. Needless to say, these reviews are entirely subjective and do not represent any kind of official view or anything like it.

This month, I'm reviewing Once I Gazed At You In Wonder, Jan Heller Levi. So, standby for a Levi soundbite, here, every Wednesday, this month.

(...and profuse apologies for being so late with this one).

Intro

It was as I finished reading the first poem ('In Trouble') that I realised Levi's writing reminds me of Margaret Atwood's. (It was the ending "I can make my eyes close when she tells me the story. / I can make my eyes close" that reminded me of Atwood's phrase (in 'The Handmaid's Tale') [~]"Opening, closing. Opening.") But this is a mere aside.

It's difficult to comment on Levi's work because I adore it so much I keep just quoting it instead... I really can't recommend it highly enough. It's pure brilliance itself. But, I'll try.

Review

Sex Is Not Important

Have you ever seen
those teenagers clenched
on street corners,
repetitively touching lips?
I think it is because
they have nothing to say.

But you and I
have so much in common:
this, for example,
and that.


from Sex Is Not Important

The hint of envy at the desperate carelessness of impassioned youth has exactly the right amount of cool disparagement to suggest wistfulness. I love how she says "this, for example, / and that." It's so throwaway; the subject makes the poem universal by being so abstractedly general, but by doing so she highlights the nothingness of mere words. The triviality undercuts the forced tones of maturity in the previous stanza.

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