Dorothea Lasky’s third poetry collection, Thunderbird, begins with the lines “Baby of air / You rose into the mystical / Side of things”—which immediately prompted me to hum Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic.” It wasn’t a great start to reading this book, but what I realized was that it wasn’t the word “mystical” that brought a song to mind so much as it was the lyricism of Lasky’s writing. As I hummed on, I recognized that the language of “Baby of Air” works through patterns, creating emotion tenor through lines that build on each other. A few lines later, Lasky writes, “People cannot keep air in / I blow air in / I cannot keep it in.” These lines are not typical, flowing lyrics packed with sound play, but are instead a series of seemingly simple phrases that amass meaning through repetition. At times, Lasky’s lyricism even has a blues-like effect in lines like “O you are already there / O you are already there / My brother tells me, you are already there.” Even in this opening piece, poetic lyricism and song come together to form both voice and emotional resonance to carry the reader through the rest of the collection.
However, Lasky’s language does not end at simple repetition. Mixed with this lyric quality (and sometimes at odds with it) are straightforward statements that strike the reader through their baring of the intimate. At times, this approach takes on the negative association of confessionalism—the self-indulgent statement of personal emotion that shuts out the reader—however, at Lasky’s best she filters this private emotion through straightforward statement, creating for the reader a realistic portrayal of human (universal) feeling.
December 21st, 2012 / 12:00 pm
by Dorothea Lasky
Wave Books, 2012
107 pages / $16.00 buy from Wave Books
1. Wave Books made a hardcover edition of this book with a pink cover but it is sold out on their website.
2. The only time I’ve seen Dorothea Lasky read was at last year’s AWP (Chicago) where she read in a theater and everyone clapped when she read and thought she was great (I also thought this).
3. After the whole reading was over there was a dance party and Dorothea Lasky was dancing nearby and I told my friend Chris that I liked her poems and I think she heard me and I turned to her and said something like, “Sorry, I’m talking you like you aren’t in the room or something.” She just smiled because she is a nice human being and poet.
4. The title of the book and all the poem titles are typed in what seems like a medieval font–like something one would see on stained glass windows.
5. “I Like Weird Ass Hippies” is probably the funniest poem title in the book (she read it AWP).
6. “I make hell to live in / I make hell”
7. “The world doesn’t care” is a poem that tells the truth and is not complicated; everyone should read it.
8. I am listening to Allo, Darlin’ and writing this and I feel this band is a good soundtrack to Dorothea Lasky’s poems.
9. “Let’s sit in a sea of flames / And I will never put the fire / Out of you” is something I wish a woman will tell me someday when she is talking to me, not reading the poem in which Dorothea Lasky writes it.
10. A person says, “Is this America?” in a poem titled “The Room” and I think lots of poets ask this important question. READ MORE >
November 8th, 2012 / 1:01 pm