Out of True
by Amy Durant
Luna Station Press; August 1, 2012
This is not going to be a formal review for two reasons:
1. Amy Durant of Lucy’s Football and Insatiable Booksluts fame is an internet friend of mine, and I’m not sure I can be truly objective about her poetry. As someone I’ve gotten to know pretty well over many months, I see a piece of her in each of her poems. I think her poetry is beautiful and honest and raw, but I think it would be hard for me to separate my friendship with Amy from her art.
2. I have no idea how to review poetry. HA! I’m not a regular reader of poetry–I tend to find poems or poets I love, here and there, either through recommendations from others or through stumbling upon them randomly–so I wouldn’t have the first clue how to formally review a book of poetry.
Amy’s first published book of poetry, Out of True, was released on August 1st of this year. It is a slim volume of forty poems, written about a variety of thoughts, feelings, and subjects. I have my favorites, of course–some of the poems speak directly to me and cause either laughter or misty eyes–but there isn’t a poem in this book that I don’t like. In Out of True, you’ll find poetic retellings of Biblical narratives; poems about unrequited love, broken love, and lost love; poems about remembering and poems about forgetting; poems about being tough and poems about being vulnerable…and I think all of them are good.
To give you a taste of what you’ll find in Amy’s book, here is one of my favorites (and choosing just one was very tough for me):
by Amy Durant
You’re catching up with old friends, you tell me.
Your nights are spent hearing about who got
married, fat, gray; who made it, who didn’t.
There are surprises; laughter.
There are some tears.
I can’t catch up on something I don’t have. I spent
a long time putting them all behind me.
There is no catching up to do. I have forgotten
their names and their faces; there is nothing left
of them inside of me except what they did to me,
the scars they left, the traps they set that I seem to
stupidly trip with every misstep.
I went to the graveyard late at night and I buried
them all. I hooded my flashlight with felt
to diffuse the light and I shoveled rock
over their coffins; then dirt. I poured
a layer of concrete laced with glass.
I put stakes in their hearts
and garlic in their gaping mouths.
I buried their heads
separate from their bodies.
I prepared for the eventuality
that they would rise again.
I waited with a shotgun
over freshly-turned earth, patiently, patiently.
I listened for the rustle of the restless.
I counted the hours.
I never took my eyes from my quarry.
You don’t survive by being stupid.
I schooled myself in forgetting.
I got my diploma in it. I was the valedictorian.
I forgot them from the feet up;
then ankles calves thighs;
perfect little torsos, cruel quick hands.
Mouths filled with barbs and dead, dead eyes.
I erased them with pink pearl rubber
and blew away their scraps.
You ask me: what about you?
The whistle of the wind past my past
is deafening. I turn and there is no one there.
No one remembers who I was.
No one knows who I have become.
I come to you with no memories, nothing
to reminisce; I come to you with nothing to gift.
I am the bad fairy at the wedding.
I was not supposed to be invited.
You will never understand this about me.
I will never give you the chance.
I sneak out in the dark with weaponry
to keep what has gone by where it belongs.
This particular poem spoke to me because I have done my own version of burying and forgetting the people in my past who deserve no place in my memory (and would just continue to hurt me if they stayed there). I’m sure there is a lot of analyzing/picking-apart I could do to “Oubliette,” but I think it speaks well on its own.
If you’re on Twitter, I also recommend following Amy there –@lucysfootball–she is a wonderful, kind, funny person, and she’s a great conversationalist.
Amy will be a guest here on Between the Covers tomorrow, to tell us about one of the poets who inspired her to write poetry (and who also happens to be one of my all-time favorite authors). Stay tuned!