One of my early posts told the story of some books of poetry I expected from Barbara Louise Unger, a poet I had befriended. [See my #4 post on May 11th] I was worried about my objectivity. Now, for your viewing pleasure, is the rest of the story:
Well, the books arrived, so I set that aside an over-cast Saturday to read these two slim volumes. First, we will tackle Thrift.
I am just going to say it – I loved most of the poems in here. Ungar’s humor, her excellent diction, her clever allusions, images, and phrases captivated me. I immediately read it again and found another thing or two I liked. “Formica” represents an excellent example of all these points:
“After arranging the peonies, I scoop
crazed ants off the counter
with delicate paper coaxings, and,
by my third transport
across the grass to the peony bush, wonder
if they could find their own way
home from the front
steps (like pets who navigate
the continent) or if they’d be devoured
by enemy armies (an ant Iliad?)
and what tales
do they tell the colony
of alien abduction
and of the strangeness of Formica
and this paper plane.” (21)
I also loved “Self-Diagnosis” (38-39). Another poem I really liked, “For the Town Clerk” (60) inspired me to write a poem about a box in my closet containing a mishmash of cards, letters, photos, and souvenirs from a pen pal I had years ago. I hear echoes of 13 Rue Thérèse here as well. All in all, a most excellent and enjoyable collection of poetry. (5 stars)
The second volume, The Origin of the Milky Way is another story. While I like several of these poems – all with the same wit and quality as those in Thrift – I didn’t relate to these as well, since many were about childbirth. When my son — now about to turn 28 yikes! — was in utero I heard all the stories about the difficulty and pain of childbirth, but I must admit, none so clever or vivid as Ungar’s.
One short poem, “Tanka,” really made me laugh, however:
“Horses stand in the rain
head down in an open field.
What else can they do?
It’s not labor.
I can stand it.” (39)
I refuse to take a star away for the reason stated, so I won’t rate it. Read it yourself and let me know what you think. I hope Ungar writes a memoir. She sounds as if she has had a wonderfully interesting and creative life so far!