I am reading Laurel Snyder's wonderful new chapbook, Daphne and Jim, winner of the 2005 Burnside Review chapbook competition. It's a fascinating non-linear poem sequence, that tells versions of the story of how her parents met in college, eventually married, and how she (Laurel) was almost not born. You can shuffle the poems and read them in different orders for a different effect. At the bottom of each page is a little guide note, such as "For a bird's eye view of the death of the sixties, turn to page 20. To follow Jim to Norway on snowshoes, turn to page 5." But really, you can dip in anywhere and enjoy.
Here are a few excerpts:
from "Introduction: Birds-eye view: Ponoma College, 1968 — part II"
This is arithmetic. Of inaccuracies.
This begins in California. We'll add to it.
There's a young girl, call her Daphne.
And a young man, call him Jim.
Both are younger than that. Both are broke(n).
. . .
and from "Birds-eye view of the wedding: A farm near Baltimore, 1972 — part II"
Daphne and Jim got married in a bower. I was there,
under the empire waist. I was there when the vows were.
A vow was made. To me. I was part of the body to be loved.
And so I was tolerated, and so I came alive, into the story . . .
It's definitely a good read. And it tackles a somewhat controversial subject matter, having to do with a fateful bus ride (you will have to get the book to see for yourself what it is!) Oddly enough, I could imagine Daphne and Jim as a staged reading, the story acted out as the poems are read aloud. Kudos to Laurel.