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Nomad’s End

September 5, 2011

Because a friend of mine who is a local historian in Bridgeport, Connecticut suggested I take a look, I read a volume of poetry by the Connecticut poet Amy Nawrocki, Nomad’s End. It was published in 2010, so not eligible for the Indie Lit Awards, but I wouldn’t propose it as a contender, anyway. There are some poems with promise, but overall the volume reads like the more recent Illinois, my Apologies—as the work of a young poet with birthplace issues to work through before other poems can be written. The poems also strike me as Romantically influenced in the style of Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was earnest and ardent and enthusiastic about the world.

As someone for whom a sight of the ocean is always exotic, I was interested in the point of view of a speaker for whom the sight of the ocean is a home-coming:

“The Fable of Travel”

At the start, the path curves
out of the linearity of a map
spread flat on the kitchen table,
only a fable, a post card yet unsent.
The map that forms in the mind
takes less shape, but remains confined
to imagination until, like an unexpected
gift sent then savored, it opens
and unfolds widely, ocean-vast,
elegant in its reality.

Breakfast looks out at hummingbirds
drinking from the sugar feeder
and as we leave the lodge, we know
the route and its blend of landscapes
will offer us the perfect wisdom.
The roadway bows around the Gaspe
and we seek nothing, but savor
each sighting. Soon the ocean
offers its pool of magic—to the north,
towns open like day lilies,
while opposite, wave after wave
leave the blessed impression of infinity.
To partake in the dance of contrast,
we stop the car to wade in ocean water
And drink the copper sky.

This is the first poem in the volume, and the best.

Another early poem, shorter, is “Loving the Maybes,” and it has a line quoted in one of the admiring blurbs on the back about Nawrocki’s use of color, “the mango light of sunrise.”

Later poems have interesting, but at the same time slightly awkwardly constructed, metaphors:
“a mistake the cold night reminds me/ to pay.”
It arrests my attention, but doesn’t reward exploration (how do you “pay” a mistake?).

Other poems are Shelley-like in their earnest attribution of human qualities to non-human creatures (“Love’s Philosophy” has a good example of the “pathetic fallacy”). In one poem, butterflies are described as “they mindfully/dismiss my intrusion.” In another, “the hills weep with companionship.” The best one, in the final poem, is more fun, even spanning a stanza break:

“…Spring teases

winter with her sundress and winter blushes
these few hours in love…”

These samples are enough to show you, I hope, that this is a poet whose willingness to occasionally sound silly could eventually turn into an ability to make readers see something from an entirely new point of view—a poet who might one day be able to make us stop, like Keats, “silent, upon a peak, in Darien.”

Are you like me, in that you tend to like people (or poets) who are willing to take a chance on sounding silly in their efforts to say something ardent?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 5, 2011 9:18 am

    I am very much like that. I like watching the process of working through. And also, I find less-than-perfect poems are often better for musical setting than their betters. You need some room to breathe the music into.

    • September 6, 2011 5:33 am

      I can see that. Watching what you call “the process of working through” can make it seem like the poem is happening to a real person, could happen to you. There’s something glossy about perfection, while imperfections can be avenues you want to worry at until you find a way in.

  2. freshhell permalink
    September 5, 2011 9:23 am

    I can’t speak for poetry but for prose, yes. What I look for is a story that sticks with me, characters I care about. If there are weird sentence structures or odd metaphors in there, I can overlook them for a gripping whole.

    As for birthplace issues, as someone who was born and raised in the Capital of the Confederacy, I only allow Southerners (and perhaps the residents of Lawrence, Kansas) to have such issues. 🙂

    • September 6, 2011 5:36 am

      I agree; I don’t want to be the kind of reader who can’t enjoy a gripping story because it’s sometimes told haltingly.
      Why does Lawrence, KS get an issues pass?

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