Sunday, September 16, 2007

Poet: Beth Ann Fennely

The picture has nothing to do with a poet I've recently discovered, Beth Ann Fennelly, whose book OPEN HOUSE I've just finished reading. The cover isn't one of those pretty ones that would scan nicely. Her photo on the back is too small amid a lot of reveiws, but it's a pretty one -- she's young and lovey ... and talented, wow! A triple threat. More in a minute. About the picture, it's in the garden behind a castle which I think we visited while still in Czech Republic -- the line is kind of fuzzy in my memory since the vacation was half Czech, half Solvakian. The gnomes were sculpted by the same Braun who did serious religious sculptures -- the vices and virtues, at the palace we had seen the day before in a different town. They are charming little people. I like them better than the serious -- three times as tall -- religious statues. The sculptor must have had a large workshop and many apprentices for that particular area was full of his work.

Beth Ann Fennelly, as I said is young and talented. She's racking up a bunch of credits including a Kenyon Review Poetry Prize. This book is full of varied and interesting work. A long sectioin called "From L'Hotel Terminus Notebooks is a miscellany but a witty, thoughtful, interesting, fun and serious collection of pieces, some are conversations with an inner self she calls, Mr.Daylater. I'll quote a short piece that struck me as the kind of advice a young poet, or any writer, is apt to hear, presented with enough humor to know she is ambivalent: it bugs her but she doesn't believe it... it's called, "Mr. Daylater's Advice on Ambition"

Never admit to it.
Never say, "I've got words
of a higher wattage,
stand back, I'll screw
them in." Never say,
"You'll need a towel
around your hand, baby,
just to turn the page."
Instead, say "gosh" and "luck."
Otherwise, they'll crush you
under their boot heels
at someone else's wedding.

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