Sunday, August 23, 2009

Poetry Give Away III: Hat on a Pond by Dara Wier

I read this book in college and wrote all over it. So if you're not up for that, you can get it online here.

Dara Wier's book, Hat on a Pond, seems well situated in surrealism, working in the collage method: the "encounter on an operating table of an umbrella and a sewing machine." Many of her poems are lists of unlikely pairings of nouns and modifiers, example from "Balsam of Myrrh," "ditchwater green grenades." Hat on a Pond mixes up straight collage by weaving in some narrative; the general idea of domesticity confronted with industry, war, loss, and agriculture coalesces over the course of the poems. Abstract assertions loggerhead with the natural world (bizarrely described), form the platform for concrete description or seem to come organically from it; in fact, Hat on a Pond seems a study in the different angles of intersection that the concrete and the abstract can have.

An example of these two impulses, which I think define Hat on a Pond:

"Do you know what's the unluckiest thing
In the world, a differential grasshopper
said to me."

--"Awe of Everything"

My favorite poem is one of the more narrative poems to emerge from the surrealist background, "Devilhorses." The poem has a rural, folkloric listing of bizarre family chores and ends in a fairytale-esque description of the child/narrator's chore. The final revelation about the devilhorses, in fairytale fashion, is both comforting and menacing.

Here's another brief snippet, showing the loveliness that these poetics can achieve, from "A Ghost's List of Alarming Notes After a Drizzling Rain," (another list poem)

"Not one of them went anywhere without their bones,
A light rain dappled their soulpaper."

Link to title poem, "Hat on a Pond."


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