Thursday, November 07, 2013

Tara Bergin's "This Is Yarrow"

I can't praise highly enough this first book of poems by Tara Bergin. I'm into my second reading, and it's even more compelling than the first round. Favorites, familiar from PN Review or from New Poetries V, are here--"Looking at Lucy's Painting of the Thames," "Himalayan Balsam for a Soldier," "The Undertaker's Tale of the Notebook," "This Is Yarrow"--but now set in the company of poems that deepen and broaden their resonance.

"Acting School" acknowledges the distance between art and life, but brilliantly concludes that "there is a sufficient amount of physical truth" in the former to approximate, and even vivify, the latter. That physical truth I find confirmed, again and again, in the musicality of the verse. It is not drinking water, but in drinking air, poetry comes close to life.

The contradictions and tensions in married life are conveyed with nervous, even harrowing, energy. I love the poem "At the Garage." I was reading the book in Central Park, and had to share that poem with GH, who does not read much poetry. He liked the poem immensely too. The idea, and image, of smearing with grease everything one touches. Being a hands-on kind of person, he could appreciate fully the comparison of ink in tins that etchers use.

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