Monday, October 17, 2011

The Fragile Day by Amy MacLennan (poetry)

"I've done the right thing my whole life. Kept my father's house, solved every case, never broke the rules.  It's not easy being this good."

You know when all-around good girl and role model Nancy Drew starts lamenting her perfect life that this is no ordinary book of poetry.  Amy MacLennan's chapbook is rich with alternative viewpoints and rich metaphors, and the poem cited above, "When Nancy Drew the Line," is just one of them.

Many times she addresses the contemplations of an imperfect life...the thoughts that assail us when we should be sleeping, or the sense that we could worry less if we only had "facts splayed out, a plan, a map" to guide us.  A runaway truck hints at lives that feel out-of-control, desperately needing a safe place to land, and an afternoon thunderstorm is pictured perfectly as "a sulky girl slamming the door". 

"In the Labor Room" summons that quiet moment right before birth, when the concept of new life mingles with the recognition of the passage of time, and that despite years of friendship and change, "we haven't even aged."  I loved this one, and how it felt to me like acknowledging that despite my getting older and having children of my own, I still feel like a child.

My absolute favorite was "If You Write a Love Letter to Disappointment", where MacLennan instructs the reader on how to address defeat. 

"Avoid sarcasm, but accept grief.
Draft the letter as if
you could only write it once.
Use a long salutation
and a short goodbye."

MacLennan's poetry is accessible and relatable.  It doesn't come off as overly structured and pretentious--it's simple, yet the meanings are deep.  It's not Language Poetry, that ends up confusing me and making me feel like a dolt for not getting it (aka Armantrout's Versed).  Instead, this feels like a gift of conversation, and the style reminds me of Tobi Cogswell, Susan Rich, and Angela Long. 

Special thanks to Spire Press for the Review Copy.

1 comment:

  1. I am very hit or miss with poetry, but this sounds like something I would especially like!