Monday, August 31, 2009

What I'm Reading: Ice, Mouth, Song

This morning has been a true delight in the reading arena. I finally picked up Rachel Contreni Flynn's first book, Ice, Mouth, Song at AWP in Chicago. I say "finally" because for awhile this book was listed on Amazon on the Blood Almanac page under "Customers who bought this book also bought..." (It looks like they did away with that feature...or I just couldn't find it today.) So, there has been a connection for several years I think. I discovered another connection by way of Flynn's bio. Although she was born in Paris, she grew up in Indiana and lived at the time the book was published (2005) in northern Illinois. (Ice, Mouth, Song won the 2003 Dorset Prize and was published by Tupelo Press.)

In any case, after reading the book, I'm left in awe of Flynn's images and her ability to weave mystery into these lyrics that build into a haunting narrative. The book begins with a preface poem titled "Fine," which sets the mood for the entire book. Here are two excerpts:

"In the lake
there's an inch
between frozen

and not yet."


"This is childhood
in three pieces:
ice, mouth, song..."

Here's another favorite excerpt from "Poem on the Road to Depose."

"Purified by diesel
and the long gray bone
of the sky,

I am limb-caught and swallowed
by the monstrous laws of the dead."

Flynn is expert at one of my favorite poetic devices. She writes from the point of view of the first person, but she transforms what is biographical into amazing lyrics that never reveal too much. I've said this of other writers in posts similar to this, but Flynn does it exceptionally well. Here's an example from "Sleep."

"I'm sick in my sleep -- a curl of caulk in the sheets --
I sleep mercury, tarot cards, ginger ale.
Over again, I sleep

lavender, camphor, hands.
(Her yellow dress full of strawberries? I sleep them.)"

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