EILEEN TABIOS Engages
POEMS for the TIME CAPSULE, collected by David Watts
(Wolf Ridge Press, San Francisco, 2013)
I have a private joke—I guess, no longer private since I’m outing it here—called “The Pity Borrow.” It’s when I go to the local public library and whenever I see they’ve stocked a new poetry book or whenever I am moved to browse their pitiful poetry shelves, I always check out said book(s). It can be by a poet who doesn’t interest me and I’d check it out anyway. Because I want to encourage the library to always stock poetry titles and for all I know I just might be the only (or one of the few anyway) readers checking out said poetry titles. Hence, “The Pity Borrow.”
That’s how I came to check out POEMS for the TIME CAPSULE, “collected” by a David Watts. I didn’t/don’t know Mr. Watts but he apparently has over 30 years of experience writing, teaching and publishing. This collection presents poems that he considers “Killer Poems,” a stack of which he’d kept by his desk “for personal nourishment.” I don’t scoff at that—as a poet, I’d love for any one or more of my poems to be on such a pile. Basically, though, this means that this anthology reflects simply what the
editor collector loves. I usually prefer a more, how to put it,
specific (?) standard than what an anthology editor loves. Love, of course, can be more “specific”—the
anthology editor can (and should) specify why s/he loves these poems. In Mr.
Watts’ case, he cites these poems as “poems of beauty and wisdom that change
your life.” With that in the
“Forward”—shouldn’t that be “Foreword”? But let’s not digress—I began what I
assumed would be a Pity Read, a cursory read through the contents just to be
able to say I checked out what I checked out.
And that’s when I came to be reminded, yet again, that one must never underestimate the power of love. Because I found this anthology to be effective for reminding me of—and introducing me to some—poems that “celebrate again and again, the best [humanity has] to offer.” Several poems are familiar but there was something to how this particular mix of poems combined to make them all seem fresh.
The book opens with an ancient Egyptian poem and includes such lovelies as Dickinson, Neruda, Plath, Dr. Williams, Yeats, Rilke, etc. But it also reminded of or introduced me to Tomas Transtromer’s “Firescribbling,” Billy Collins’ “The Lanyard,” Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays,” Lucille Clifton’s “to my last period” and “wishes for sons.”
Thus, all I can say to David Watts is “Thank You!” for having put this anthology together. You let the poems speak for themselves but you also chose wisely so that, together, their sum is larger than its parts. I read Wallace Stevens’ poem in this context, for instance, and was refreshed by this excerpt that reminded me of WHY one loves poetry:
The Green Plant
Silence is a shape that has passed.
Out-bre’s lion-roses have turned to paper
And the shadows of the trees
Are like wrecked umbrellas.
The effete vocabulary of summer
No longer says anything.
The brown at the bottom of red
The orange far down in yellow,
Are falsifications from a sun
In a mirror, without heat,
In a constant secondariness,
A turning down toward finality—
Eileen Tabios reveals something about herself in ARDUITY'S interview about what's hard about her poetry. Her just-released poetry collection, SUN STIGMATA (Sculpture Poems), received a review by Amazon Hall of Famer reviewer Grady Harp. Due out in 2015 will be her second "Collected Poems" project; while her first THE THORN ROSARY was focused on the prose poem form, her forthcoming INVEN(S)TORY will focus on the list or catalog poem form. More information at http://eileenrtabios.com