Poetry Talk: Sublimity by McKenna Hight

When a dear friend tells you they’ve encased their soul in paper, it is best to tread carefully.  Poetry is an intimate form of literature.  To translate your inner trials, triumphs, and longings into language and is a brave thing to do.  I deeply admire McKenna Hight’s courage in sharing her debut poetry collection, Sublimity, with the world.  It’s an act of hospitality I’m honored to receive.

Before proceeding, I’d like to say a few things about my relationship with the author.  Sometimes in life, you meet people and find instant kinship.  You may only be around each other for a few days, but that’s enough to form what will likely be a lifelong friendship.  McKenna, I think, is one of those people.  We met four months ago during my brief Spring Break stay at Rochester L’Abri.  She’s a writer from Atlanta and we bonded instantly over our mutual love for YA fantasy and Sarah J. Maas.  During our short time together, we had some really intense discussions about faith, struggles, and how we are to live.  Meeting McKenna was no accident and I value her friendship immensely.

As a blogger, bookstagrammer, librarian, and amateur book critic, it made complete sense to do a review of Sublimity.  I use the word “review” lightly.  This post is pretty long, as I get into some close reading, but that’s part of the fun.  While it’s definitely possible to critique a work of poetry by its structure and adherence to literary form, poetry is hard to pin down. So much of a poetic work is subjective.  Poetry is a conversation.  It’s about immersing yourself in the figurative language and gleaning whatever you can.  I don’t pretend to understand all of Hight’s poems.  I don’t think understanding is the point. There is no concrete meaning to poetry and there is space for a thousand interpretations.  Poetry is about the journey, so let’s journey together.

If you’re interested in picking up your own copy of Sublimity, you can do so at this link.  Follow the author on Instagram @yawnsters.

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Poetry Talk: Twirling in Flames by Tinu Bello

A couple of months ago, my friend Tinu approached me about helping review and publicize her debut poetry collection.  I hadn’t heard from her since college and, while I was swamped with grad school work at the time, couldn’t say no.  What’s the point of having being involved in the online bookish community if you can’t use your platform to support the creative endeavors of your friends?

It’s been a long time coming, but a short break between grad school semesters has given me the chance to sit down with the collection and pull together some thoughts.  This is by no means a comprehensive review, but I hope you get a sense for what the poems are about.  I had so much fun digging into them.

I hope you enjoy my scattered thoughts!

You can buy your own copy of Twirling in Flames by Tinu Bello on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Be sure to add it to your reading list on Goodreads.

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Poetry Friday: God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

I recently discovered Gerard Manley Hopkins and… dang.  His poems are sometimes difficult to understand, but such a pleasure to read aloud.  I love the sounds and interplay between words–they fill my mouth like rich food and I slowly chew the sounds, savoring each bite.  I find certain lines getting caught in my head and, as the day goes on, I repeat them to myself over and over again.
Here is one of my favorites:

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On the Road Beyond Hancock

Today, I’m trying something different.  Here comes a poem…

afternoon fog lingers over the countryside

———-

fields do not roll…

they stretch, one after another

after another

after…

———-

the air I breathe is solid and white

it glimmers and the sunshine cannot break its hold

———-

as I pass by,

the silver patches

of tree branches laden with glisten & glaze

loom from the haze

winking

———-

is this real? I wonder

or is it all a dream?

———-

As I drove across the prairie yesterday afternoon, heading home from a visit to my college town, I found myself on unfamiliar roads in an afternoon fog.  The sun was shining, but I could not see more than twenty feet in front of me.  The land in that part of the state is unbelievably flat, with a big, open sky.  Everything was white–the air felt fathomless and empty.  Even though it was the middle of the afternoon, the trees were covered in hoar frost.  I pulled over to the side of the road, got out of my car, and spent several minutes taking in the view.

It felt like I had been dropped into a fairytale.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

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swiftly, silently (a poem)

swiftly, silently

the hours slip into the fog

as she gives up counting sheep

no bleating penetrates the haze

boundaries between light and dark

are lost amid vacant pastures

of unspoken verse

and today slips into tomorrow.

she loses herself in the rhythm

of poetry that has not been penned

savoring the unsung words,

        rolling the idea of vowels across the threshold of her lips

like a puff from a midnight cigarette

what will she say to you?

what will she say to you when her time comes?

in that moment

when syntax must harden

when the verbs and nouns align

into concrete—

will you press your hands into the cool pavement?

will you make your mark upon the page?

empty fragments floating amid

ungrazed grass, waiting for the Sandman

to sprinkle his dust and claim

the syrupy, smooth whispers of verses

melding as midnight and morning intertwine

fog shifts over the water

she braces herself against the steel railing

white haze encompassing

stirring in her the need to reach out—

to grasp the words, to fill a pasture with her pen

but the damp river air washes away the sounds

they slip through her fingers

kissing her ears before sliding away

as a blush on the horizon signals the coming of dawn. . .

alone she remains.

hand extended towards the fading mist—

silently

swiftly

I don’t often write poetry, but when I do, it shows up on my blog years later.  This was drafted during my semester abroad in London.  I submitted it in my Innovative Creative Writing class a few semesters ago, where I received lots of wonderful feedback from my classmates.  As an inconsistent poet, it feels good to let these words finally see the light of day.

What do you think?  Should I do the whole poetry-thing more often?

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There Will Come Soft Rains

I heard the weather before I saw it.  The wind blasted against my windowpane, causing it to shake and shudder.  The thing about living on the fourth floor of a building, though, is that weather look worse than it actually is.  When I stepped outside in my blue dress, headed for church, I was pleasantly surprised.  The wind was strong, but not overpowering.  A slight drizzle fell, forming small puddles on the path.

I could smell Spring coming.  And I thought of this poem by Sara Teasdale.

~~~

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

~~~

Photo from Google: http://www.paintingsgallery.pro/upload/artists/lipko_andrew_218564/artworks/www.PaintingsGallery.pro_Lipko_Andrew_Spring_Rain_On_The_River_medium_219217.jpg