Tuesday, February 13, 2007



THE GRACES by Elizabeth Treadwell
(Dusie, 2006)


SONNET by Matt Hart
(H_NGM_N Chapbook Series #3)

Reading Mark Young's review of SONNET (see above post) and, shortly thereafter, Elizabeth Treadwell's THE GRACES offered me a mini-epiphany as regards a role for poetry chaps. Up to this point, I've not differentiated much between chaps and books, except when the former clearly presents itself as a presentation of a sampling from a longer work; that is, I think a poetry collection can be as valid in chap form as book form -- it all depends, for me, on what's on the pages (regardless of page count) and whether such works viably/organically as a "poetry collection."

THE GRACES and SONNET, however, illustrate the possibility of allowing for a truly intimate, nay personal, gesture -- that a chap can embody a specific personal address (even letter) to a specific someone(s). While personal address can be achieved in book form, the chap's production can enhance the personal.

In SONNET, references abound throughout the poem to the poet's acquaintances and friends. In THE GRACES, the chap is a poem dedicated to the poet's husband, thus bringing in the presence of said husband into the work (actually, this is the first time my eyes did not ignore a dedication in a chap/book; I think my eyes incorporated the phrase "for my husband" in the poem due to the nature of the chap's production -- more on this aspect in last paragraph below).

I easily can imagine the pleasure(s) felt by Treadwell's husband and Hart's friends in perusing the chaps (I'm assuming they had a chance to see the chaps).

But, importantly, that directed pleasure does not get in the way of another reader's read due partly to the lovely lyricism in both chaps -- a lyricism that transforms the poems beyond direct addresses to specific someone(s) and draws a stranger-reader into their heightened wor(l)ds. Both also share an admirable ability for linguistic twists and turns. Of course, comparing these two chaps is still a bit arbitrary since their energies are so different. Hart's chap -- a rolicking fun ride enervated by puns and riffy re-mises -- contains a more active energy than Treadwell's, as shown in these excerpts below:

The end of the road by the mailbox...
And the hawk swooping down, down and down.
My friend Brett says, "rhinoceros," and the world
claps its dainty hands together, because ht eworld
is a girl and full-flowing stop atop the mountain
he has made in his mind. I find there any number
of god things gooders. O Nature, you time bomb,
which is to say, the seasons thus exploded
blow up our clocks and everybody ducks for cover
or dons a fur bathing suit, or mindful full
bright bellies of stars. All of it stolen (lovingly)
from the mouths of babies--and certainly Brett
doesn' tmean babies, he means rhinoceros,
or dances his ass off with charm. The world
                              is a boy or a girl.

unfold the hours
as your skin
becomes a weary suitcase

as the sun glides
molten into moonlight--
in the dreamy shadowguard
chasing relatives
throwing fruit

all the sounds
a tongue
can make

the starlet's

but I've grown more
               than weary
of such herald tourism
my hands like
               stiff'ning gloves

now I've left these odds
               + hours
for a dream procession
of the circuit ministries

build me a lesson here
in the handheld

One difference between book and chap is how the latter, a more limited edition, can offer more opportunities to practice one-of-a-kind book arts. In this matter, THE GRACES, a limited edition of 33 hand-made chaps, offers something that SONNET's production does not. SONNET, while a charming presentation of 4 1/4 X 5 1/2 sized pages is like a pamphlet; its charm is enhanced by the bird drawings of Jane Ortrun Carver but I assume all copies in the edition are the same. THE GRACES -- that is, the copy I have since each copy of THE GRACES is different from each other -- is 2 1/2 X 2 1/4 with a bluish-silver, foil-like cover, an endpaper of what looks like a page from an antique book, and bound together with turquoise, silver, red, yellow, and black yarn or threads. It's a presentation that facilitates an enthusiastic invitation to the reader into the poem's world. In reviewing THE GRACES, kudos, therefore, must also be given to publisher but also Dusie book-designer Susana Gardner. Here, the design makes the poems's call ever more fetching.


Eileen Tabios HEARTS wine, dogs and Thou.


At 2:38 PM, Blogger EILEEN said...

Another view of SONNET is offered by Mark Young in GR #5 at:


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