Marie Lecrivain reviews Wedding Day by Dana Levin
© 2005 Dana Levin, Copper Canyon Press
These days, the iconoclastic, isolated status of "the poet" is often abused to the point of absurdity. It had often been, historically speaking, as with Lord Byron or Oscar Wilde, employed as an excuse for aberrant behavior, and engendered the excessive outpouring of indulgent, narcissistic verse, thought this is not true of Byron or Wilde.
This is not the case with Dana Levin's Wedding Day, a follow up to her debut book, The Surgical Theatre (copyright 1999, Copper Canyon Press), where the melancholic nature of the poet is intelligently and sharply addressed in such a way that even a non-poet could understand.
Beginning with a series of abstract, succinct vignettes in "Ars Poetica," Levin captures the essence of what happens when the poet, in isolation, is burdened with fear that the knowledge she holds within may not get the opportunity to be expressed:
would it wake the drowned out of their anviled sleep--
would it slip the sun line a coin behind their eyes--
The idea, the teacher said, was that there was a chaos
left in matter - a little bit of not-yet in everything that was--
so the poets became interested in fragments, interruptions--
the little bit of saying by the unsaid--
was it a way to stay alive, a way to keep hope
leaving things unfinished?
as if in completing a sentence there was death--
Wedding Day not only divulges the solitary nature of the poet steeped in her craft, but offers up a daunting view of the poet's experiences of isolation on different levels and in varied aspects. In the poem "Desire (clear place)," the poet as a single woman trapped in a world where everyone around her has paired off; the poet as a helpless, grim witness to another's descent into the seductive seclusion of grief in the poem "Isolato"; the poet's inner debate with both sides of herself over the excruciating nature of pain in the poem "I Hunched Boiling Inside It"; and the poet as a child questioning the metaphorical and concrete actions of her mother in the poems "Ambivalent Light," and "I Asked Why I Was Better at Truth than Love."
To be fair, most poets can't help but be isolated and often handicapped with unparalleled vision. No one can truly - unless they are part of "the poetic sisterhood/brethren" - experience or understand, but a reader (whether it be a poet, or a lover of poetry) who takes a step into Dana Levin's world will appreciate the effort she has expended in revealing these often unacknowledged truths.
review by Marie Lecrivain, executive editor of poeticdiversity
© 2007 SubtleTea Productions All Rights Reserved