Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Box of Longing With Fifty Drawers

Reading an interesting little book of poems, A Box of Longing With Fifty Drawers (Soft Skull), by Jen Benka. The conceit is that she has taken the 52 words of the Preamble to the US Constitution (you know, "We the People . . . blah blah blah . . .") and used them to be the titles of the 52 poems in the book. It's fascinating when she contemplates words like "Justice" "Tranquility" "Welfare" "State." But some of the more interesting poems arise from words like "We," "A," "Of," "The." Here is one of the "And" poems:


where are you
how do we reach you
will we really be safe there
what if we get lost
what if we never arrive
what if we can't find our way back
what if there is nothing there
what if this is temporary
what if you are lying
what if we need to believe you anyway

And here is one of the "Of" poems:


derived or coming from caused by away from
so as to be separated from the total or group comprising composed
or made associated with or adhereing to possessing or having
centering upon or containing before or until
during or on a specified time set aside for specified as
or named or called or characterized
or identified by with reference to

It's an interesting read. And she uses the poem series to comment, somewhat wryly, on the state of America in our time, with freedoms and liberties under attack from within, conflicted and contradictory relationship with immigrants, dumbheaded wars, and etc. Check it out here.


Charles said...

Cool! I love it when you make recommendations in your blog. You always find interesting and exciting books to read. I'm putting this on my list.

Peter said...

Charles: glad to be of service. ~grin~

Kells said...

Hi Peter,

I am/was working on a series of poems from the opening lines from the Bible, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without..."

Though I never quite completed it, the process in writing the poems was quite incredible. I'd find I'd just fly from word to word and each poem was quite separate from the other poems, yet as a whole, they were so interwoven.