Friday, May 20, 2011

Diversion: Marvelous Poetry from Michael Chitwood

Michael Chitwood
There are always reasons for falling behind on the stack of books ... family, work, the garden (ah, the garden! daffodils collapsing in exhaustion, parsley a bold green, pea plants round-leaved and childish, too many dandelions but how wild their golden heads). Then I make time to open one and ..


Michael Chitwood's collection POOR-MOUTH JUBILEE (Tupelo, 2010) is a marvel of fresh language, bright new images, and incisive portrayal -- of grief, loss, healing, life. I even love the section titles, like "Never Take Your Own Advice" and "In God We Trust" (yes, think of dollar bills). From the loss of a friend's life by motorcycle accident, Chitwood pinwheels out and in again, painting and proclaiming.

Here's a segment that I especially like from the poem "Self-Help":
Great-Great-Grandpa Self,
The yawp is loosed.
We are talk.

In the street, in bedrooms,
in elevators, in the great stadiums,
in our cars as we plunge into sunlight,
we are not without voices,
saying and said to.
But it is the voice of the Great Horned Owl that then slices into the poem, then a crying woman, then the Self again, followed by a long sequence of couplets like "At the Chapel of the Chained Ankles / people have left pictures" -- prayers for healing speed across the page, disguised within precise images.

Whitman and his "yawp" return later -- so do many forms of considering what an "accident" is, as well as the connections among us. Chitwood, author of six previous poetry collections, has caught me. More, please, more.

Quick note: I'm also delighting in another 2010 Tupelo Press book, THE LAKE HAS NO SAINT by Stacey Waite -- rumbling sentences chasing each other through prose poems and shaped blocks of text, probing gender, mother and father, more. Great to know this press keeps picking winners.

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