Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Tangled Line by Tod Marshall from Canarium Press

Book-length collections of poetry aren't usually an easy read for me. It usually takes me a very long time to read a book of poems, most likely because I know too much about poetry now so reading also takes on a "studying" quality. It's like that Aerosmith song, "I don't want to miss a thing." Sometimes it hurts my brain. The slow reading, not Aerosmith.

So reading The Tangled Line by Tod Marshall was a good change of pace for me in that I read it straight through in a short amount of time. It's a good book. Not great, not life changing, not something I will be revisiting over and over until I'm familiar with it on a know-it-by-heart basis, but good, solid writing.

The Tangled Line is one of the first books published by Canarium Books, which was spawned by Josh Edwards with the help of the University of Michigan Creative Writing Program, which is where Josh and I got our MFAs. (I say "Josh and I" like we're BFFs, but we're not, though we did attend the program together. He's a good guy. A handsome guy. A fine writer. But not my boyfriend. Just to make things clear lest I be accused of misrepresenting.) Josh and Canarium were mentioned in the latest issue of Poets & Writers in the "Small Press Points" column. So that's pretty cool.

If Marshall's book is any indication, I expect further handsome little volumes of smart, interesting, maybe even a little hip poetry to follow.

My favorite poem of Marshall's from his new book is "Describe Wildflowers to Ethics." I love the incongruous imagery and the sounds of the thing. Perhaps, also, it's because I, too, will have a little boy soon and will have to deal with all sorts of penis-related issues I have never before had to consider.
Describe Wildflowers to Ethics

The ground gives a push. Rocks applaud,
and nearby, waterfalls like rivers of joyful tears--
that time laughing so hard at my son
toddling around the house
with an erection on which he'd hung
the friendship bracelet from the Bible People
that said "What Would Jesus Do?"
Answer that one and you might be able to see
those purples, reds, and yellows
the subtle lavender gloss, sheeny pinks,
even the over-the-top oranges,
and not be tempted to pick the explosive petals
to press into a notebook
with the desperate hope
you could one day open the pages
and say as it was, so it shall be. Try again,
write scribbles of smoke against the sky--
fillyum trillium birdfoot violet blueflag.
Try paintbrush, buttercup, try please. Try
fire and tears. Try greeny green green.

(Tod Marshall, from The Tangled Line, 2009 Canarium Books.)


Anonymous said...

Hey D'Anne! Greetings from Smogoland/Shanghai! Thanks for the kind words, and I'm so glad you like Tod's book. I'm really excited to get back to the States, see him and Ish read, visit Ann Arbor, make some new books, actually write some poems (for some reason it's somewhat impossible here, although everyone knows tons about poetry and like every temple or mountain has a famous poem to go with it). How are you? What else is new? (Facebook!)

Anonymous said...