Thursday, May 7, 2015

What I'm Reading: Encantado by Donna Vorreyer with art by Matt Kish

78º ~ a full week of sun and now chances rise again for thunderstorms in the heat of the afternoons, spring is holding on this year ~ the robins have returned to build a nest in the same notch in the tree outside my window that they've used in previous years, must be their second clutch, don't want to think of the fate of their first nest

I turned in my last section of grades last night at 10:00 p.m., and then I slept the sleep of the righteous and the just. This morning I woke to a few nagging emails from students, but even that couldn't detract from my excitement about SUMMER. For me, summer is not "time off." Instead, it's "game on" time for reading and writing, and I'm starting with my AWP box pictured above. Yes, I had and have acquired books before and after AWP. Yes, they are scattered all over the mess that is my home office. Perhaps because the AWP books are tidy and contained, I gravitated there first.

This morning, I spent a good long while with that bright pink & aquamarine gem at the top of the box: Encantado by Donna Vorreyer with art by Matt Kish, published this year by Red Bird Chapbooks. Donna and I are friends via Facebook, blogging, and AWP. Matt and I became virtual friends when he was working on doing a drawing for every page in Moby Dick, a project that later became a book with Tin House Press.

Encantado is a chapbook, which was a great choice this morning as I get back into reading collections of poetry. The word "encantado" comes from Brazilian folklore and means a mythical, often shape-shifting creature, most often that of the freshwater dolphins that live in the Amazon River. These dolphins, botos, are pink. Yes, pink, and they caught Donna's attention when she was visiting Peru in 2002 (according to her note at the back of the book). Donna took the idea of the shape-shifting dolphin from folklore, most often a male dolphin taking the shape of a man to either seduce or kidnap young women, to create the narrative arc of this chapbook. Woven within her poems are amazing images drawn especially for the collection by Matt.

All of the poems in the collection feed the story of a girl/young woman, who is rebellious but also abused and threatened by her father. She develops a relationship with a boto/encantado. However, the poems are not all told from her point of view. Instead, there are omniscient, third-person poems alongside first-person poems from the point of view of the young woman, the encantado, the father, and the mother. This mix provides a multi-layered story, given the short amount of space given in a chapbook, 17 poems in all. The art both illustrates and adds to the story with 11 pages of graphics.

Encantado opens with a prose poem, "Rebellion," in which the girl came of age and "the women of the village warned about the boto, how it took the form of a man at night, how looking straight into its eyes would bring nightmares without end. This was enough to convince her she must try." [Notice that refusing to mind characteristic, key to most fairy tales and folklore.] Then, the book unfolds with free verse poems that provide the story. The book closes with another prose poem titled, "The Real Story." I love this bookending of the story and how even with "The Real Story," we are still unraveling more of the life of this character.

I recommend this book for both the poetry and the art. It's a delight, cover to hand-stitched cover.

No comments: