Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dull like a brother-in-law in front of a TV


 I always enjoy being introduced to a new poet that is especially able to captivate my attention from the start.  Not every poet is like that, but I often find that an excellent place to go looking for such inspiring wordsmiths is New Letters on the Air.

I’ve had two recent discoveries from New Letters interviews.  One is C. Dale Young who was interviewed by Robert Stewart and the other is Martha Serpas who was interviewed by Angela Elam. Today I want to talk a bit about Serpas because her interview especially hit home with me on several levels.

Serpas grew up in the bayou country of Louisiana. Many of her poems poignantly cut to the heart of the crisis of survival of the very land that she considers her home.

One of her books, The Dirty Side of the Storm was written prior to Katrina with the exception of one poem. But what I heard of the poems from the interview give a personality to the nature that makes up the complex Louisiana gulf basin. Serpas visits the erosion land in the basin with an eye on the threats to its very existence from a variety of man made encroachments including but not limited to the many canals that have been cut through the area for ease of access to the many oil operations.  Of course, if these poems predate Katrina, they also predate the existing BP oil crisis.

In her poem The Water, she has so many minglings of words that I just love. You hear them and they are have an almost living & breathing quality upon the page.  One such example….  “like a dull brother-in-law in front of a TV. He means something to somebody— but not you, not just now.” The poem can be seen in its entirety here and even better can be heard as well.
What I love about her poems is the way she seems to put man smack dab in the middle of nature with all the venerability the becomes both man and nature at the same time. The interdependence that cannot be denied. There too is a spirituality to her writing that is evident in seeking, finding, and losing.

In closing this post I’m sharing a link to the LA Gulf Response that Martha Serpas recommends and check out the video trailer for a documentary that will be released later this year titled Veins In the Gulf.

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