Maybe in hope of understanding or helping others see, the cutting world of writing.
On Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 15:09, Lenny DellaRocca
Please understand why I must apologize here. I’m sorry I did not read your reviews carefully enough. This is my fault. I should have read with more care and then tell you from the start that these reviews fall short of the mark in what we want in a review.
There have been remarks made about your Silvia Curbelo review, Falling Water, such as run-ons sentences. Your review of C.S. Fuqua’s White Trash & Southern, and now this review of Molly Peacock’s book is, sorry to say, just not well written.
Like I’ve said, this is my fault.
I am so sorry to say you are no longer one of our reviewers.
Best of luck and sincerely,
When I tell them I am a poet
they think it is because I write poems.
Founder, Co-Publisher, South Florida Poetry Journal: southfloridapoetryjournal.com
and Interview With A Poet: southfloridapoetryjournal.com
Michael Mackin O’Mara
Co-publisher, Managing Editor
On Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 1:35 PM, Candice Louisa <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
As promised here is the next review I owe you, the Molly Peacock review. I hope it works. See attached.
If you want to let me know the next deadline and the book you would like me to review I’ll put it in my calendar.
As always, a pleasure.
Candice (see attached and below).
The Analyst, by Molly Peacock (published by Norton, 2017)
Review by Candice Louisa Daquin
I was once a therapist, maybe that’s why reviewing Molly Peacocks poetry book The Analyst was harder than expected. When observations strike close, they either repel or silence your own reflex because you relate so deeply to an almost uncanny inspection of the self. Peacock being a very famous poet may accomplish this regularly, but that does not diminish her skill, rather, it continually offsets those writers who may happen upon occasional revelation without a true divining rod.
Peacocks work is a divination tool; she uses her keen intelligence and word-conjuring to fill this slim volume of thoughts relating to her relationship with her former therapist who after surviving a stroke began painting. Reminding me of someone writing of say, a death, and the experience of loss but with a brighter quill, and less beleaguered by emotional attachment, you could appreciate the poems within this collection without knowing the history, though this invariably adds to the uncanny rendering.
Reviewing a feeling is strangely unfulfilling. You want to exist in the feeling the words bequeath you, rather than spelling out and losing the wonder. With others poets, the wonder may be fleeting, sporadic, hesitant, absent. Peacock is seasoned in her ballet of words, but not in an old-hat formulaic way. On a superficial level, the design of this little hardback is also of the ilk you’d wish preserved on your shelf.
You find love in the words, but set enough apart to avoid suffocation. Lines like; “I want to die to help you” has the bravery of a lover, seeking any recompense for suffering with an urge to ‘save’ and I found this poignant for a long relationship of sharing, almost the definition of a merciful response we would all wish to evoke should we fall sick. The juxtaposition of vegetables and cooking metaphors marks this the language of a poet, where in ordinary preparation we find a life time of thought revealed in stark and obscure shards. In the line; “undone. But you eat,”(Gusto) a quiet chisel reveals the irony of health’s failing, and our desire to go beyond, in spite of life’s rules.
I have never read a book paying homage or marking the days of rehabilitation, the slow walk through convalescence and relearning. These are shaped tenderly almost switching roles (carer/patient) lending hope to notions of mercy, observing the observer with lines like; “But to you, abstraction was lying.” (The Analyst Draws). Even the healthiest among us can relate to this reversal, what must be imagined the inner response to sudden frailty, fears keenly lain on operating table.
“It takes such strength to call, I can’t search now / for why – though all our enterprise was for why. / The bottom of the glass is standing by, / the rest.” (George Herbert’s Glasse of Blessings) speaks of how anyone may feel, adapting to new circumstance, the helper becoming helpless, the previous search of why somewhat redundant and yet, never quite. The subtlety of those juxtaposed ironies are the bedrock of a poet who doesn’t just create nice sounding formula but speaks what we do not yet know ahead of us.
Equally, Peacocks book voices loss, relatable to memory, and other conditions, few have not been touched by. When she laments; “The burnt edge of the memory gorge / you have to make a path around / starts to crumble – don’t fall in! / “The place … / with the things on the walls …” / Blackness.” (Speaking of Painting and Bird Watching) Peacock evokes our world of confusion, occasional nightmare, a probing journey, a relinquishing and restarting. How real these feel to the reader, who can think to their own families and loved ones, find within these lines, their life, and others, stretching out. Culminating in a universal urge; “All I want to do is go away and paint / – just like I did as a girl.” (Speaking of Painting and Bird Watching).
Whom among us has not queried how a life force can be abruptly extinguished, how a box of ashes could truly contain a soul and life time? This is echoed in living-observation as much as death, when we observe in shades of dismay and wonder; “you looked so trim and well / in black and white you could almost convince / us both you were whole.” (Fret Not). This is brilliantly turned, from a fear to almost gallows humor, the exact tightrope of fear and hope those visiting the very sick experience. “So I lifted it up – then laid it in this frame / now on my wall. Hourly I pass your name.” (Fret Not). What a wonderful redemptive faith in the power of existence and relationships is given ultimately!
As with any comedy, humor is an essential device when probing tragedy and fear, it sets off the stark reality with that absurd urge to laugh at horror, and binds our fragile lives together, as we wring ourselves blanched with anxiety. Peacock succeeds so deftly to evoke laughter alongside acknowledged sadness and fear, she weaves the maze of emotions we walk through on our way out of shock, using images like pottery, painting (subject), war and of course, analysis, to counter the rude truth of sickness and ruin; “It’s always backwards in analysis, isn’t it? / Thank you for reading my injured mother / who aided a game her child played.” (The Pottery Jar). Time is cyclical in Peacocks awareness of what we may consider of our pasts, as we war with the emotions such circumstances force.
Peacock juxtaposes mirth and repulsion, she states; “Thank you for not believing me when I said I was suicidal / (my dad had died and evaporated into smoke.” (The Pottery Jar) And in so wielding she turns what had been to what is, the patient explaining to the therapist, her growth, and taking over as seeker, evidencing her struggle to this juncture, her determination to endure, much owed to the guidance of this woman who lies now, helpless and lost within herself. It is both morbidly horrifying and so much a testament to the ties binding us if we invest in a person wholly. How refreshing the gratitude, almost like considering a marriage, or a life time and honoring it through reflection. I appreciated the lines; “Thank you for simply standing / as I learned how to stand on the sand.” (The Pottery Jar) More than anything, a job well done is that which accomplishes a reflecting back in learning and grace.
The poem; In our Unexpected Future, there is a beautiful awareness of how fleeting those things we relish can be; “All their agitated longings and fears / pulse through ruched necklines, palpate / in taffeta waistlines, outliving their societies, / pillars and palaces burnt in a blink.” How well Peacock knows to blend meaning, sound, rhythm and imagery. This was a feast of acute magnification, continued by; “in folds of silk, surviving silk – / for frocks outlast pillars. But feelings / outlive frocks. The immaterial storms through, / a force beyond years (…) It isn’t what happened that lasts. / Not art, either, but the savory core. What’s felt. / We relish your reprieve as if we’d licked all / the way through the paint, leaving wet marks / to vanish from gowns long gone (but not).” Lines like these defy worded reward or interpretation, they exist before the thought, they create the thought, the world, the truth, and remind me why Peacock is a muse among muses.
Sectioning the book into subtitles (The Pottery Jar / The Hours / Ruby Roses, Kiss Goodbye / Whisper of Liberty) compliments this feeling of transition, ebbing and flowing, walking together, backward and forward, an intensely feminine interpretation of friendship and loyalty I found bewitchingly rendered. In Mandala in the Making, the last poem of the collection, Peacock intuits; “Only when / something’s over can its shape materialize.”Surely this is a raw battle cry for all to consider, our arc from one experience to another, witnessed by those who love us, never in vain, always challenging and hard to penetrate until we consider the return. I know I would have felt this deep appreciation for Peacock’s collection irrespective of the professional success she deservedly has had and continues to have and that, is the greatest compliment one writer can bestow on another aside requesting you to read more of Molly Peacock.