Friday, February 03, 2006

Lie Awake Lake


I'm reading, among other things, Beckian Fritz Goldberg's new book, Lie Awake Lake, winner of the 2004 Field Poetry Prize . Apart from the wonderful title, the cover image is just stunning, and is one of the main reasons I picked up the book. And the poems aren't bad. Here is one, blending death and blossoming, in a way that reminds me of James Wright's "A Blessing."

Blossom at the End of the Body

Leaving this world must be the flower,
its three violet faces turned to the air — a man can't look
at a flower without knowing he's dying.
That's the beauty. Parting must be this little
chance, with its stem and flutter. It's no god
and it's no force and our grief is a rock, a clod,
a punk of earth. Truth is,
what we will miss most
isn't her or him or mother or child but
the particular blue at the side of the field,
the heart's pure botany, for

the body is a science. And there is no
substitute for thing. Not love, not happiness,
not faith. But flower. But flower. But flower.

I like how she rhymes god and clod. And the meditative tone. It must be delightful to read aloud, with the refrain at the end. Lovely.

It says in the bio that she teaches at ASU. So, Charles might know of her? Posted by Picasa


Charles said...

I know her well--she was my thesis committee chair.

This is one of my favorite books of last year and probably of all time. Both this and her forthcoming The Book of Accident (which I had the pleasure of reading in manuscript form to better prepare for an interview with her) are incredibly tight, visual, wrenching lyrics.

Beckian is a badass in real life and her poetry is totally badass. It doesn't shy away. That's one thing I hope I learned from her.

Allen B. said...

Ditto, Charles. My very first poetry workshop was with Beckian at ASU, back when MFA programs where rejecting me and with good reason. I am grateful she had a gentle touch on my horrific poems, stuff I'd dash off before class. She was so encouraging while still maintaining quality control. During that scourching summer session of 1993, I learned about poetry and, more importantly in some ways, about tact. She was also great about bringing in her own works-in-progress, asking the class what she should title her poem, going out to a seedy bar after class for schooners (Greek wine was her particular poison at that time). I owe her a lot.

Not to mention her gift of poetry. Yes, she is a challenging read--lyric, myth, narrative--thrown in a blender. But she writes with such authority that she can pull off just about anything. I read lines such as the devil being "like an opal in the bowels" and just say, "Damn, I wish I'd written that." She's often in new territory and we can't help but follow. Buy her new book, buy her old books. I'm partial to Never Be the Horse which has a series of revisionist poems about Lucifer, Adam and Eve. Part of "The Painted Adam" reads: "It was/like holding shocked wood doves before/their necks snapped. How could he be calm? He began to pulse as if the woman-bone/buried in him rose, this bitch resurrection/ come at last"

Alan Cordle said...

BFG is a sad case: