Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Camille Martin's LOOMS: strolling down a parallel road

At first I was confused. Shaken. Oh yes, I was adrift.

Overly dramatic? Not when it's about poetry, in this case, Camille Martin's Looms, which like Penelope's famous twenty-year woven prevarication while Odysseus is out and about, begins each day anew with each poem, each poem begun without fanfare and needing none.

What it is: there are no titles and without titles, I initially was unmoored and a little ashamed I needed the perfunctory "To a Skylark" or "Homage to My Hips" to orient me. But then I got with the agenda gloriously so - allowed myself to float, to be shuttled (but not shuttlecocked) from perspective to image and on, each sonnet a frame and yet an embrace, a scene and invitation.

Martin launches the collection with a quotation from Barbara Guest:  Its remoteness from the center of things is what is endearing about a Tale and it doesn't tell the truth about itself. It tells us what it dreams about. Ah!

I recommend you get hold of Looms (published by Shearsman Books, publisher of Mervyn Taylor, Janet Holmes, Tom Clark, and a long, long list of other terrific poets).  Here's why (from page 36):

Between grass and vacuum, standing on faded
tapestry in a low cloud, the odd pine cone skittering down
a roof. Some burgeoning belief poses-index finger raised-
and then that becomes life strolling down a parallel road
beneath a gentle sky, a cruel sky, Consoling
to think of burning ballast for light, brewing letters from ashes
moistened with a little fog. If all weather reports of one life
redeemed emptiness, maybe the ordinary could re-emerge,
inert, forgettable, except for the part where it juts and struts
and sobs. Worth a try to con it with words of practiced
lust settling like dead metaphors on scrap. Easy to love
indelible ink, gliding down opaque roads. But to ponder it
is to falter and to falter is to reawaken standing on faded tapestry
now different somehow. If I could sugar-coat one tiny historical
diva of a moment as the last rose on earth withers  Then that
becomes the reigning prophecy. No way to grasp unique
blades, so they vanish with or without exegesis
into static. With no motive but moving limbs, pedestrians
absorb bland gravity and step on soft signals.
Camille Martin, Looms, Shearsman, 2012.

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