04 May 2012

Second Review of "CADUCEUS"

L.L. Barkat is a poet, essayist, fellow staff writer at Curator, and managing editor of Tweetspeak Poetry, T. S. Poetry Press, and Every Day Poems. She has written a piece about my book, CADUCEUS. You can read her article here.

It's called "Higgins Writes the Poetry of the Gods".

I am thrilled to have such an accomplished writer say some pretty big things about my work! She is a generous person, full of boundless energy for poetry in general and poets in specific (if that's a phrase). I can't thank her enough for taking the time to read my book -- I'm sure she has piles higher than mine of stuff she must read (!) -- and to write something, anything, about what I've done.

Yet despite the grand title, I'm not convinced she thinks that I do. Write the poetry of the gods, that is.

Here are some selections from her piece. I've put into bold some phrases & sentences that stand out to me. Please take the time to go over and read her whole article!  

And if you like form- and mind-play (and other things I'm convinced I do in that collection, such as exploring faith and love and pain), please consider buying a copy of Caduceus.

“Higgins Writes the Poetry of the Gods”
by L.L. Barkat

“Caduceus? Oh, that’s the snake thing,” says my older daughter. Caduceus is the staff. It’s held by Hermes. He’s the messenger to the gods. I’m set to wondering how many people know their mythology like these kids do. 

I wonder vaguely how Sorina Higgins was raised. While some of us were sleeping through the Odyssey, had she already begun to wear the wings of either the caduceus or its bearer? 

Has anyone ever wondered how all these inadequate feathers did the job? Neither the span on the staff nor the span on Hermes’ winged heels seem fit to bear a being of that weight. It is a miracle that Hermes ever rises. 

 Higgins will face the same issue. Maybe she will never get off the ground and will simply be a writer run mad.

Higgins, like those two snakes on the staff, will demonstrate a duality throughout her collection. She works with classic forms like the sestina and the sonnet on the one hand; yet, on the other hand, she breaks form, thus bringing to light the struggle of opposites through the very structure of her work. 

Ultimately, it is this kind of form- and mind-play that a potential reader must enjoy in order to appreciate this complex collection. If you slept through [the Odyssey], just don’t mention it to Higgins.


L.L. Barkat said...

Sorina, your book would make a good point of discussion for a section on mythology in a poetry course. Or a section on form poetry. Not for Freshmen though (my daughter being an exception, having lived in form poetry for a long time now :)

There's plenty to play with and to discover, that I simply didn't have space to share in the review. The title of the review? Well, it says that people are just going to have to read more if they want to do some deeper mind-play.

Iambic Admonit said...

Yes, indeed. And many thanks. And I understand.

I think, too, that taste and the shaping of taste inevitably form, inform, and practically dictate our responses to poetry. I find I get strongly negative reactions from people who just hate the taste of formal poetry, for instance, and those reactions rarely if ever have anything to do with the "content" of my poems. Also, interestingly, the people who hate the flavor of formal poetry often don't seem to notice that a very large percentage of my collection (19 of 48 poems), including the really long one "Croagh Patrick," is in free verse. It's as if they smell one sonnet and run the other way. :)

I also find it funny that some readers see forms and quite quickly accuse the poet of artificiality, lack of empathy, and various other kinds of hardness and distance.

Thank you for not doing all that! But those are the challenges a formal poet faces.

Some more food for thought.