Thursday, January 13, 2011

Micro Reviews - Diane DiPrima and Juliet Cook

I'm still playing catch-up with review writing and not doing a terribly good job with it, honestly. I read a lot, then I got really sick, and now, because being sick for 3+ weeks means I didn't exercise in 3+ weeks I'm in that emotional funk that, for me, goes with it being winter and not exercising. It's an amazing cycle that gets me watching multiple episodes of The Office in one sitting rather than doing what I ought to do which is get off my butt and exercise.

However! Yesterday I briefly got off my butt and exercised for about 40 minutes (and could tell that it had definitely been almost a month since my last spin on the elliptical machine because at 40 minutes I was sweating way more than usual) and I read Planchette by Juliet Cook (pretty sure this is the last chapbook of hers I own and still had to read) and Loba, Part 1 by Diane di Prima (it's a first edition and I found it at Caliban Books a while ago. Very exciting. It does not exist on Goodreads.)

I'm not really sure how to deal with the awful funk I get into when I don't exercise regularly. It's amazing how that exercise, though, is more effective than therapy or medication ever were - you know, presuming I keep up with it. As someone who sits at a desk for 8+ hours a day, I don't really get much in the way of exercise unless I purposefully pursue it, and while when I'm on a roll with the exercise it is extremely easy to motivate myself to stay in the habit, but when illness hits me, after I recover I'm usually a bit down, and with that and lack of exercise comes a lack of energy and a vicious cycle that I really end up clawing my way out out.

Okay. Enough complaining.

Loba, Part 1 by Diane di Prima (Capra Press, 1973) - Diane di Prima is one of the most well-known women of the Beat movement and more people should really be reading her/knowing about her. Her poetry is beautiful - Crystal and I have performed her "More or Less Love Poems" at Kerouac Fest and for The TypewriterGirls Save the Libraries, always with an enthusiastic audience response. I've been meaning to read Loba for a while now and honestly, am a bit embarassed to admit that this is my first dive into the series. This was a great chapbook to start off 2011 with. Lately, I've been drawn more and more into shamanism, mysticism, and earth spiritualities and these things are hard to find in poetry that I also feel is well-written. These elements are certainly present in Loba, Part 1 as di Prima follows the Loba, an otherworldly she-wolf, through the book. Perhaps my favorite piece, though, was the one that opened the chapbook, a poem to the speaker's "lost moon sisters" - all the women who have lost their way, their sense of self, who the speak has not met, who the speaker mourns for. Definitely a poem that I will force my husband to listen to me read aloud. I am very very excited to read the complete Loba which is sitting on my shelf, waiting for me at home.

Planchette by Juliet Cook (Blood Pudding Press, 2008) - anyone who has read previous mini reviews by me knows that I love Juliet's poetry, and of course Planchette was no exception. Perhaps my reviews of Juliet's work should simply read "It was Juliet Cook. What do you think?". But no, I will be more descriptive than that. In this collection, I was particularly impressed with how well each poem fit together with the others. The entire collection was pale and haunted. There were hauntings of the body, hauntings of food, hauntings of dolls, hauntings of furniture, hauntings of spiders, and yes, hauntings of homes. I enjoyed how poems would reference one another, yet not be dependent upon one another in order to be understood and appreciated. I felt as though I was being lead through a tour of quiet madness by someone who, themself, was quite mad. As is always a strength in Juliet's writing, there is beauty in the grotesque of Planchette, and, I feel, a strong feminist undertone to her writing about women made pale with blood made thin and fingertips snipped off (though Juliet herself has told me she's been called everything from a radical feminist to an anti-feminist by those who have read her poetry). You can purchase a copy of Planchette at the Blood Pudding Press etsy store, as linked above, and I highly recommend it.

I am working on what I think is the title poem for my full-length collection. As of right now, that collection is one of poems on women of spiritual power, but we shall see how it evolves.


Juliet Blood Pudding said...

"I felt as though I was being lead through a tour of quiet madness by someone who, themself, was quite mad."

Thank you so much, Marg! I'm really glad you enjoyed Planchette! I love your whole mini-review, but the snippet copied above made me laugh.

I think I'm going to send you a semi-random but semi-related note a little later today...

Margaret Bashaar said...

So glad you liked it, dear Juliet!

I love notes - be they related or unrelated <3 If this note has anything to do with the last weekend in January then I am certain my answer is yes. If not, the answer is probably still yes and will try to bring into itself adorable yet terrifying animals.