The Story

"'In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy,
To-morrow or to-day."

-W.H. Auden, As I Walked Out One Evening

This is a blog for poet, Senia Hardwick. I have some listings for upcoming readings, and events where you can hear my work, as well as places I can be read. I also have some sample poems and analysis and reviews of other writers.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Women, War, and Darkness: A Brief Review of the Grove Behind by Andrea Scarpino

The Grove Behind is a poetry collection by Andrea Scarpino. I looked for a quote from the back of the collection to cite, but honestly none of them contained the same ideas that I wanted to convey. As they are quotes from the summary of a collection, they are a bit verbose and almost an advertisement for the text itself. What I appreciate about Scarpino's collection is the way war, destruction and despair (things generally associated with chaos) are juxtaposed with the way they are presented (frequently in couplets or a very structured style).

While reading poems on Hiroshima and a group of Jews being held in Auschwitz (this is the poem the collection is named for), two topics that are incredibly emotionally compelling and upsetting, my mind is still being forced to break these ideas into structured forms. In some ways it can be seen as how American and (large portions of) Western culture and psychology, try to deal with emtionally and culturally traumatic events. We take these evens and feelings and place them into structured systems in order to comprehend them. Poetry (even chaotic, non structured) poetry does this to ideas in general. Language allows us to transform feelings and events into more manageable forms, even if they are inescapably chaotic.

On a less cognitive and abstract level and just more technically, Scarpino has an impressive diction and range of words. The poems are thematically very similar (pertaining often to violence and war), while not feeling repetitive.

Arrival, Which I Did and Jerusalem, AD 70 are three(VERY DIFFERENT) poems about motherhood and sacrifice. One is a narrative about Mary Magdalen killing and eating Jesus and people coming to her to eat (Jerusalem, AD 70). Which I Did is about a mother sleeping with soldiers so her son is returned to her unharmed. Arrival is about an older woman leading children somewhere and watching the number drop as they die. Each of these poems convey an exhausted woman (often driven to do something incredibly difficult), two of the three contain language related to fire and burning, despite this I did not find descriptive words in common aside from things like child, boy, and woman (Gender is descriptive because it's performative. Blargh.). That is a talent.

Overall, I would say the text as a whole is a great collection and well put together. It's a  little outside of my normal tastes, but is a good read.

If you're interested in the collection or Andrea Scarpino here is  Andrea Scarpino's Page on The Grove Behind and the general site

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