So, I have a confession: I’m not really into poetry. There are poets and poems I really enjoy, but give me a choice and I’ll go for short stories or novels every time. There’s something so intensely private about a lot of poetry that it just turns me off. It’s very WASPish of me to avoid all that emotion-talking, especially considering I’m only a white, mostly Anglo-Saxon, totally non-Protestant. But I had to buy and read this volume of poetry because I just met the author, and I was, above all else, simply curious to read what she had written. I finished the book this morning, after reading in stops and starts for the past couple of weeks.
This collection is primarily about love.
It is also unbelievably sad.
Durant deals almost exclusively with the desperation and despair that exist on the fringes of love, and it is here she’s at her best. A few poems are off-topic, dealing with well-known characters or other topics, and I found myself moving through those more quickly to read the poems that felt too private to be shared. Durant probes that space between loving and forgetting, when one person still holds on to a love and attaches it onto to the other even though the other has moved on, is married. Somehow she manages to live in that space without being bitter; the work is an expression of the act of feeling those dark emotions, not of regretting or despising them. And the beauty of the imagery Durant packs into even snippets of lines is incredible. Take these home and put them in your pocket:
“I would woo you with my inky palms.”
“…winged / shoulderbone, knobbled / backbone like a string of fresh- / water pearls…”
“I am the life of the party and I am the / belle of the ball and I am the bell in the / chapel and I am pealing, pealing, the town / smiles to hear it.”
The work was really lovely to read, though I enjoyed it best when I read only a poem or two at a time. They are such intense little things that too many at once was overwhelming and kind of dulled my senses, making them harder to appreciate on their own. I love reading melancholy work done well, and Durant does not disappoint.