Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Espaillat on Glad and Sorry Seasons

Enthusiastic endorsement from Rhina P. Espaillat:

On Glad and Sorry Seasons:

I’ve just finished my second reading of Glad and Sorry Seasons, thinking this would be a sober reading to “turn the garment inside-out and see how it was made,” as my sample-maker mother used to do with clothing after examining it on the outside. But no, I’m still too drunk to think about the seams and stitches, still in awe of the sheer beauty of this sumptuous collection that looks and feels as if it had been born this way, rather than made at all!

The first poem, to begin with, knocked me out, and then the following ones in that first section wouldn’t let me recover, because each one is a new kind of attack. I think you get stronger and wilier as you keep writing. The one dress I’ve turned inside-out so far is “After a Line by Millay,” because the music of the rhymes is so subtle and yet so powerful that I had to track you down to see what you were up to, and have discovered it’s a mirror that reflects on itself in line 7 and 8: how gorgeous! Millay would have loved it, and I’m going to teach it this October here in my yearly workshop to locals, as an example of form following sense and yet being wholly musical, as if there were no words involved at all. I love the way the final quatrain keeps all the promises the opening five lines don’t even bother making, after the distractions of that middle stanza, so oddly orderly after an apparently “unrhymed” opening. Talk about “riffs” on the sonnet form!

But aside from that, I’ve finished the second reading with the same greedy inattention to craft as the first, simply noting in passing that you’ve done sestinas, an ovillejo, various French forms, a glosa, haiku and some glorious faux Wilbur het-met, all as if there were nothing to it. Your deadly sins, your reply to Frost, your tributes to other poets—including Alfonsina!--your translations—wonderful ones from Spanish!—that cento, the killer Hopper poem that closes the book, all of it is a delight, full of humor and pain and wisdom. Now I’m going to read the notes and see how much I’ve missed, and then do a third reading for criminal purposes, to select what I need to steal. You are a marvel, and I thank you for the repeated pleasure of this book.

--- Rhina P. Espaillat

Thank you, Rhina!

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