Tag Archives: Poetry Collection

Poems for National Poetry Month

April is my favorite time of year. Not for the showers (although, rain’s nice), nor for the beginning of spring; rather, April is my favorite time of the year because it’s officially National Poetry Month and that means I get to spam everyone I know on Facebook with poems everyday, and sometimes twice a day, for a whole month. It’s also the month of William Shakespeare’s birth and death, so I like to pay special attention to his sonnets and poems, as well as poetry that celebrates his work, during my favorite time of the year.

It’s really an English degree holder’s dream.

I want to share poetry with everyone this time of the year, and you are not immune. Here’s a poetry month starter kit of poetry for you to share with your friends, or to just read an enjoy, during my favorite month of the year.

Trace in the Mind: The Quiet by Anne-Marie Turza

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In her debut collection, British Columbian poet Anne-Marie Turza uses specialized narrative and metaphor to explore the nature of silence. Often, this does not refer to literal soundlessness, but to an awareness about distinct facets of being, some beyond our experience. Say, for example, the subjective truth about a stone cricket, or the physics of a pitch thrown by Satchel Paige. Throughout the poems, the subject eludes the grasp, unable to be defined, but the author persistently grapples with its dimensions:

One says: it was smaller then. And one: it was larger, so
large, its sound was elsewhere. And one: as in measure-
ments. Counting the charged particles. One says: it’s close
and scalpiform. And one: it slips from everything, in all
directions. (13)

A hybrid of poetry and prose, Turza’s lines evoke fabulist Italo Calvino, especially in their inquiry into unrealized worlds. Her syntax is defined more by considered language than meter, her enjambed lines brusquely leading the reader to poetic resolution. Set off by wide margins and the blank page, the text occupies negative space, each poem’s meditation a contrast against its undefined surroundings. In poems like “Barren”, the speaker approaches silence through negation, calling to mind Kant’s noumenon (“thing as it is in itself”):

Nowhere in the real will I divine you.
Not in the shards of stones. Not in the shade of stones.

Neither in the blue tint of the stones’ shade.
Noplace in the air. Your eye. Tell me: what’s caught

your eye? Not the fern, now uncurling, sporing
its split leaves. Where then is your attention held?

I’m barren and I am your mother. Discarnate child,

yours is the stark eye that can’t be born.
The naughting eye: and nothing after (57).

The absence of the speaker’s child is felt as she observes the phenomenal world, alone. Her unborn child “observes” its mother’s experience, its disembodied eye nihilates “the real”. Life for the speaker is meaningless. Paradoxically, the absent child has a presence in this poem; unable to be “divined” with the senses, it exists beyond the edges of comprehension, of language, in an unrealized space. The child permeates and surrounds the phenomenal world, like the whiteness around the text.

Elsewhere in the collection, Turza invites the reader to abandon human subjective experience:

—And its sound?
—As in the toothed whale. There is a buried hearing organ.

—And its sound?
—It enters the immersed body firstmost through the throat.

A hallmark of the collection, the query-response format suggests a disciple/teacher relationship. The teacher mediates the subject through metaphor, using abstraction to map out uncharted territory the same way a whale might navigate its surroundings. In this poem, the texture and reverberation of sound becomes visceral, we feel it enter “through the throat.” Turza’s voice in the collection operates much the same way, attempting to orient the reader in a foreign context.

In The Quiet, Turza asks the reader to transgress the boundaries of the known. We enter a state of silence, of willful imagination and unrealized possibility, to contact what lies beneath. It is a world of degrees. Her treatment is at times private, intensely focused, and at others, cosmic. The collection is a pleasure to read and an inspiring inquiry into the nature of being.

Anne-Marie Turza is thirty-four and lives in British Columbia. She has an MFA from the Writing Department at the University of Victoria. Her poetry has appeared in several literary magazines including Arc Poetry Magazine and The Mahalat Review, and the anthology The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2010.