Friday, October 2, 2009

Apologies To An Apple: Poetry Friday Review

Apologies To An Apple
Maya Ganesan
Reviewer: Jason

So, I like poetry, I really do. I even love poetry. So, living in a modern world is really hard. I don't know a lot of contemporary poetry, and I'm sure there are many wonderful poets in the world. Every time I go out and try to find them, though, I end up with... stuff I don't like. Sometimes it's just kind of dull, sometimes it feels like somebody congratulating themselves on how cool they are for writing poetry when everyone else is writing pedestrian nonsense, like prose, sometimes they are (and yes, this is only a personal opinion, so if you like the stuff I hate I apologize) god-awful, terrible, ugly nonsense. It's not just that I'm old fashioned - hey, I like Jack Kerouac, he's no EB Browning, and I'm posting my positive review of The Waste Land this week - it's that... well, I don't know. I think it has to do with the market. It FEELS like the only people left reading poetry are poets (Amanda and I have talked about a similar problem in the short story market), so the poetry is written to impress poets. And poets don't necessarily pick out the best poetry, simply by picking the most 'impressive'. I don't mean to sound snobby, because I really don't even read enough modern poems to make a summary judgment, I've just never been able to find something I actually liked.

So, imagine my surprise when I really, really loved this slender little book of poems, that I won for free from Color Online. Now, I promised myself, I wouldn't focus on this in my review, because if I were the poet, I'd be kind of irritated if this is what they focused on, but I will just say it once: Maya Ganesan, the author of this poetry, is 11 years old.

I think the thing I most enjoyed about these poems was just how much voice she has. Ms Ganesan, like Emily Dickinson, has a special gift for clear language that illuminates what she saws around her while reflecting just enough light back on the poet herself to make us wonder who she is. Like in this poem:


The sparrows have received
my invitation, it seems --

no, not the letter kind.
It seems they have

heard my song
and will come to meet me

in a moment. Look, Look --
the horde of wings.

This is the best kind of poem in the collection: a poem firmly fixed in the perceptions of a real soul, but that just uses the soul as a lens to show us something else. Ms Ganesan has a highly developed sense of implication, as well, something that comes through in this love poem, that I wish I'd written for my wife:

A Message for You
I have traced your name
my finger

on the steamy
glass doors surrounding
the shower.
The book isn't perfect. The last section particularly has the echoes of someone trying to imitate 'good poetry', and can feel a little forced, and overwrought, but by and large, this was a wonderful book of poems, and a beautiful surprise. If Ms Ganesan is the future of poetry, then poetry is coming on a renaissance.

*Today is Poetry Friday. This week's host is Kelly at Crossover. _______________________________________________________
Jason is a reader, husband, father, IT professional, and horrible poet in San Antonio. He posts book reviews at 5-squared and other matters at Moored at Sea.


Nymeth said...

I don't want to focus my comment on her being eleven either, but am I allowed a quick and discreet wow? Love the bits you shared.

Amanda said...

I don't read poetry normally, but I actually plan to read this at some point in the future when I'm brave enough (poetry addles my brain and makes me feel completely unintelligent). Jason really made me want to read it. :)

Jason Gignac said...

Glad you guys both want to read her, we need to support good poetry when we find it :). Look forward to both of your reviews, if you do! :)

Kelly said...

I have visited Maya's blog. She is such a wonderful young talent!

evelyn.n.alfred said...

Sounds interesting...11 years old...wowzers.