Saturday poetry pick: Plainwater

I realize I haven’t been blogging much at all since the end of Poetry Month. But this past week I’ve been reading.

And what a week it’s been–a perfect marriage of image and intellect. I’ve been reading Anne Carson’s Plainwater. This collection also pairs poetry and essay–with the essays sometimes bordering on prose poems, or a diary, or a meditation. For me, not knowing exactly what I’m reading, not being able to box it into a known form, is part of the delicious pleasure.

The book is divided into five sections: Mimnermos: The Brainsex paintings (poem fragments and essay), Short Talks (are they poems, or brief essays; does it matter?), Canicula di Anna (time and identity shifting and bending), The Life of Towns (poems, I think), and The Anthropology of Water (essays in three sections). All woven with Greek and Chinese history and Japanese poets. All studded with spare and gorgeous imagery, its recurrences.

The essays especially grabbed me. I’d think that part of their power was in their lack of trickery or contortion–and then I’d realize that their acrobatics are just that subtle. I’m reading a long and wham, there’s that badger again.

Now for a sample: Here is a link to some of the poems from The Life of Towns. For a sip of the essays, see this excerpt from The Anthropology of Water.