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|Review by: Shaun Moffitt||
I admit I sometimes feel like Russell Baker when I read contemporary poetry; he said, I gave up on new poetry myself thirty years ago, when most of it began to read like coded messages passing between lonely aliens on a hostile world." So, I am very pleasantly surprised when I get the infrequent collection of poems like Nancy Takacs Preserves, which is full of personal lyric poetry that has meaning and depth and is readable. Yeah!
End of September is a beautiful evocation of a young girls memory of having an older neighbor man expose himself to her. I say beautiful because it has the fuzzy emotional quality of a memory but the exacting physical detail that stays with us all our lives. The two were sitting on a dock, both drawing pictures, and the poem ends with the speakers recognition she
One of the ways I evaluate poetry is by the quality of truth it seems to get at, and I see much truth in this poem. I can easily remember experiences from my childhood that were cloaked in mystery to me at the time, and then looking back on them as an adult, they reawaken the child self, unaware of the world shaping her with each moment.
Many of Takacs poems have this form and qualitymemories from childhood that are revisited and reshaped. Witchery describes the speaker and her mother making crabapple jelly (many of the poems in this collection are about fruits of the earth and the earth itself). Her mother tells her
The mother appears mentally disturbed, and the daughter is taking over the task of teaching in this scene, and she thinks,
I still hold against her her history: "tearing my tie-dyed skirt in half, never/ sticking up for me. Life comes full circle. Shapes shift and roles reverse and a bond is created in the making of the jelly, letting sweetness come down / to us, taking in our full bowls.
Nature and family are the main subject matter for the poemsbirds, fruits, flowers, daughters, mothers, sons. Saving My Sons Neck is another of Takacs poems that does wonderfully what poems should do: evoke a feeling without naming it, shine a light into a mystery and illuminate it for us. The mystery here is one any mother is familiar with: longing for and being wary about the connection to make with a child, especially a teenage son. She remembers times spent with her son when he was younger:
At sixteen, her son is like most teenagers, moving away from the parental connection, becoming more silent, becoming an adult.
I highly recommend this bookfor those who read a lot of poetry and for those who dont read any. As a lifelong reader and writer of poetry, I admire Nancy Takacs skill and honesty in creating poems that reveal the mystery, pain, and beauty of our lives. I wish more contemporary poetry was like this.
To buy the book, and read a few more poems, click here