Emma Bolden’s The Mariner’s Wife.

My daycare provider is down with the flu, and Vincent is still sleeping because he stayed up until I returned from the poetry reading last night, so I have this unexpected lovely time to luxuriate in this new book of poems.

Now I’m not going to pretend impartiality — anyone who reads this blog with any sort of regularity (anyone?) knows I’m a big admirer of Emma and her poetry — nor am I writing a review here really. I’m not especially good at that sort of writing, I’m afraid, which perhaps you’ve noticed — I’m too much the fan girl, and have no patience for things like plot summaries.

[Though I will insert here that I’m ever so sad that Michiko Kakutani gave Salman Rushdie a less-than-glowing review for his new novel, which I adored. But it was a well-written review, and while I disagree with her conclusions, it’s reasoned and respectful. This coming Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, on the other hand, includes a negative review that I just consider useless.]

That said:

It’s been a long time since I read a book of poems I felt so much affinity for and loved so much. The Mariner’s Wife, just released from Finishing Line Press, is about love, relationships, heartbreak, shopworn subjects that Emma invigorates by virtue of her rich language and the ingenious juxtaposition of the Mariner poems (“The Mariner,” “The Mariner’s Wife Dreams of Hands,” etc) with more seemingly personal poems, and others that tread the line between and bridge the gap. In fact, the sequencing of this chapbook is extremely instructive for any poet, it’s so masterfully done, with utterly seamless transitions.

I just love this book and urge everyone in the most strenuous terms to go to Finishing Line’s website and buy a copy for yourself — I promise you it will be the best poetry purchase you’ll make this year.

Below is one of those bridging-the-gap poems, which illustrates the energy and surprise of her lines, the sensuality and inventiveness of her diction:

What to Heed, What to Leave

In the first flush of fever I was a green dress
tying to be untied. You were fingers of pine

bark, a beard’s smooth scratch. You were the scent
of cardamom and silk. My pillows wore your name.

The village women called for amethyst, aventurine
for healing, an emerald disc over the heart o if

thine true love come. Too late. Packed my chest in ice,
my feet in snow. Bird wings circled a man

of danger. The stars spilled out the one
you’ll blame
. Too late. You were already a raw

wire within me, my own mind’s sputter and spark.

5 responses to “Emma Bolden’s The Mariner’s Wife.

  1. Oh, Marie! I am blushing, blushing, blushing, so much so that my face may never return from its non-beet-ish color. Thank you so much for your kind words! This means so much to me, really. I’m so glad you liked the book!

    (By the way, in revisions for the Big Manuscript, “What to Heed” actually became a Mariner poem! The Mariner octopus is eating the book!)

  2. I loved the book, Emma! Truly, it’s my great pleasure to write about it & spread the word in any way I can. Lance also enjoyed it — he read a number of poems out loud to me last night — and then concluded with a “Yep, she’s something all right!” 🙂

    And it is very pretty.

    So do you have a working title for the Big Manuscript? And is this separate & distinct from your witch work-in-progress? It’s been a while since you discussed these subjects on your blog.

  3. Oh, oh, oh! The only word I can think of to possibly respond is … SQUEE! Thank you so much! And I’m glad Lance liked them, too. 🙂

    The working title for the Big Manuscript is … Well, it’s also big. It’s “Goodbye Is the Closest We Can Come to I Love You.” And it’s different than the witchies, as the witchies are still in a kind of zygotic state for me.

  4. Ah, gestating. I understand it well.

    I like your title. Big, but not unwieldy.

    But also sad.

  5. I kind of figure that they might have to cut it off to “Goodbye Is the Closest” on the spine, and I liked that idea, too.

    It is sad, but still feels sadly true to me …

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