Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Needle

Jennifer Grotz
The Needle

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011

In her second collection of poems Jennifer Grotz looks at people and urban landscape of the modern city. In an interview Grotz noted that she’s tried to make this book more objective. Indeed, the poet is almost merges with the world. In the first part of the book most of the poems are about a city, and in them there is almost no "I". City in Grotz’s poetry is not mythologized, it remains what it has in a very material sense: the walls, roads, the smells, the colors, of course, people.

The city would begin as slowly as the old man in a brown fedora
making his way down the street, a walking stick in one hand
and the arm of the elderly woman beside him in the other.

The author has traveled extensively, and this is reflected in Grotz’s poems. Icons, Town Square, a nun, break-dansers, street theater - all this the author brings with her from the travel, putting into verse.

I can't make out their words, but I'm thinking about an actor
who bequeathed his own skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company
to serve as Yorik's in the graveyard scene,

wanting perhaps to serve later Hamlets in this modest way,
having spent many nights holding up a plaster copy
and looking deep into the empty eye sockets, open jaw.

The second part consists of poems about the deseased brother. Grotz writes about it without any strain, with love sometimes not even sister’s but mother’s: «I mothered you, I protected you, you were my baby, my toy». Together with memories of the brother the memories of childhood come. Serenity (not coldness) of poems of Grotz also is in the selected rhythm. Almost all the poems here are written in long lines, with correct, complete sentences. Grotz’s world is not broken, it is too beautiful, though at times is painful, to break down, roll into individual words.

Grotz’s poetry is natural poetry, the poetry of life and prosperity. But the poems in this book were written even with that degree of intelligence, when you look at clouds and see a cat's face, but understand that this is primarily just a cloud.

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