Poetry Review — Post Meridian, by Mary Ruefle

I picked up this book of poetry, because I read and loved A Little White Shadow, in which she took an old Victorian manuscript and whited out text to create what she calls erasure (or whiteout) poetry. It was a fascinating way to approach found poetry, which has inspired me to play with the form in my own writing.

Post Meridian is a collection of her original poetry. It is sometimes heavy as tree branches bowed under the weight of snow, though it is also often playful. Mocking in a kindly way. Poking fun at the ghosts and shadows and day to day terrors that we often take far too seriously.

I enjoyed this book of poetry, though at times there was a disjointed quality, one line encapsulating a thought process that collapses upon another. Sometimes this made it difficult to take the whole poem in as a whole. Though each line in and of itself would be captivating, the entirety of the work assembled could occasionally be somewhat baffling.

Not that poetry has to have clear meaning — being multilayered as a puzzle box is part of the enjoyment of reading poetry, though I admit that my own enjoyment comes from discovering how each piece fits into the next. The resulting imagery and meaning as perceived by me allows me to (perhaps delusionally) believe that I have tapped into the secret key of the poem and discovered a truth denied to others. Egotistical? Maybe. But I doubt I’m alone in this experience.

The poetry in Post Meridian, however, often denied me this. The pieces did not always neatly fit, and I sometimes felt as though I were standing on the edge of the poem rather than being let in to its secret chambers — a confounding experience, but not necessarily negative. Perhaps these poems open more wholly to others; perhaps I need merely return to them at another time when I can look at them from an altered perspective. Either way, this is an enjoyable collection of poems that I would definitely recommend.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]