Friday, September 24, 2010

Finding Solace in the Wind



Finding Solace in the Wind
by Stephanie Hiteshew

Cover Artist, Sarah Walroth

MuscleHead Press
BoneWorld Publishing

July 2010

Poetry. Chapbook. 39 pages. $5.00.




The past
rips
my mind
to shreds
and builds
a temple
in her honor.


A beautiful poem, “Temple.” I begin with it because, in fourteen words, it captures the spirit of this wonderful collection of more than a hundred short poems written by a young woman who, like the one depicted on the cover, is falling through life with her eyes wide open, surprised and frightened, yet glad she has finally let go. I’ve roughed up the cover a bit in the process of getting a picture, but that too is what this book is about: finding inspiration in life’s scars and ragged edges.

“Stephanie,” it says in a short note about the poet on the book’s last page, “began writing poetry to cope with the symptoms of her Tourette’s syndrome at age eight. Later, it became a crutch when she was diagnosed with tardive dystonia in 2004.” Crutch though it may be, we can search these pages high and low and find no trace of hand-wringing or complaint. What could have been a self-pitying diary is instead a collection of universal moments and truths, directly understood and lived.

Finding Solace in the Wind is divided into three sections. The first, Muse, is just that — tiny works of wonder which seem to arrive from nowhere:

The Chase

The canyon,
busy,
chasing down
echoes.



Midnight Moon

An old, giant,
cratered eye
surrounded by
a black sea
of dragons.



Shadows

A mass
of clouds

freed shadows
from their people

for one, glorious
moment.



Sit and Wonder

Each exhale
I won’t get back.
One step closer
to my passing.
While in between
still living.
Oh, how some
sit and wonder.



The second section, Hobo, is a Basho-under-bridges look at the world, with days of grit and exposure followed by nights of silence cracked by birds:

Sound

I listen to silence
opening up
to morning’s sound.
A crisp envelope
tearing—
the flap of an
opened letter.



Shivering

Shivering
lets you know
you’re still
alive.
Sleeping
leaves it
to the angels.



All Things Found

Of all things
found,

the world
before me
waiting,

was the least
expected.



Each of the poems in the third section, Sextets, are six lines in length, and some have the familiar, quotable ring of proverbs:

Boulder

He heaves
a brick
at the world.
The world
heaves
a boulder back.



Flaming Candle

The flaming
candle,
desperate,
commits suicide
with one,
fatal tear.



Others are stark and self-knowing:

Daughter You Know

Every time I leave
the world takes on
new meaning.
Never do I come back
the daughter
that you know.



What I like about all of the poems is their urgency, simplicity, and lack of guile. Stephanie is full of imagination, but she has no need for posing or pretending. There are people in this world who are embarrassed to say this much, and poets ashamed to write this well. And yet Stephanie’s solace, if they’d try it, could also be their own, Humble / as the / naked / cold / wicked to / the bone.

10 comments:

Woman in a Window said...

Oh my, such beautiful work. I say that very slowly as though each letter in the word is a vegetable from my garden. Thank you for this, William

xo
erin

jasmin said...

dear William, there are beautiful little poems with amazing words, "a child" with such force and charisma, makes admirable, even in thought, it is always the beginning, the beginning of all childhood still unformed, unimproved, truth, honesty of the things I'd rather be together with children, I like to see to the child to accompany beautiful YOU without "deforming" I think that I have not forgotten how to recognize, as an adult, the adult over whether it is honest, what is being brought against me, or only played like, "I do not know how successful the translation," I write something .... Thank you, herzlichst Jasmin

ALeks said...

Gentile,strong in its simple stile,loving and beautiful words,thank you for this introduction
William!
A

William Michaelian said...

You’re welcome, Erin. Thanks for sharing the harvest.

Thank you, Jasmin. I love what you say despite the translation. We won’t worry about that. What’s important is that Stephanie’s poems have found you in Germany, and that they mean so much to you.

Aleksandra, it’s my pleasure. And you’re right about the strength in these poems. They’re small, but they’ll be around a good long while.

Anthony Duce said...

Your review is wonderful. Thank you for bringing this wonderful talent to my attention..

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Anthony. This is a small sampling from a lovely little book. I’m pleased to pass on the news.

rahina q.h. said...

beautifully composed, and starkly honest...

William Michaelian said...

Yes... thank you, Rahina.

Woman in a Window said...

Oh, just a quick note you might pass to the author...I ordered her book and was not charged a cent for shipping and handling. I can't imagine that that is how it should work. I'm afraid she will lose money sending on her book.

thanks William
erin

William Michaelian said...

I don’t know, Erin. The book is fairly slender and light, so maybe the shipping cost is built in to the price. Either way, it’s a great bargain, as all the MuscleHead Press chapbooks are.