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Marian Haddad - Reading from Wildflower. Stone.

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Uploaded on Feb 11, 2011

WILDFLOWER. STONE.

POEMS BY MARIAN HADDAD

PECAN GROVE PRESS, $15
Flowers bloom and stones endure in the titles of two new books by San Antonio poets Marian Haddad and Marian Aitches. Flower and stone are among objects and symbols evoked in conversational tones by two distinctly diverse sensibilities. Haddad's lines travel long, flat highways, sweetly romanticizing a symphony of light, while her spirituality looks to the heavens. Aitches' succinct lines — jagged and stony — expose dark politics, as her spirit illuminates "rough justice" in the context of earthy ethics.
Haddad's book opens with a lovely homage to Wallace Stevens' "The Man With the Blue Guitar" — establishing the female body as center of sensibility. "Through this blue guitar/the unconscious river sings./Body of woman/entwined about helm and prow/of songs and strings, rivulets/of cadences between brows./Body of wood and flesh/dressed in blues and violets/colors of sky and sound/colors of woman wound/about hips of harmonies/wide as water." "Her Body Is a Guitar" has neither flowers nor stones, but water flows through it as the essential metaphor connecting all life.
The title poem constitutes the second section — a 40-page sequence that travels the mountain and desert regions near El Paso (her birthplace) and the wetland areas of the Gulf Coast, encircled by the lights of sky and memory. The final part includes touching hymns for deceased parents. "My Father's Garden" praises the beauty of unexpected weeds — "I was amazed/at the fecundity of forms/of grass/of bright yellow/happenings." "A Psalm for a Mother" celebrates "the only things I know/that heal, include light, light from light, and stars/and the Maker of them."
"We have a moment, they have an hour/theirs is a stone, and ours a flower," reads Langston Hughes' epigraph that provides Marian Aitches' book title, paralleling her edgy critiques of savage behavior by the powerful against the "Other" throughout history. Part Choctaw and a professor of Indian Studies at UTSA, Aitches writes pointedly about the treatment of American Indians, several heartfelt poems on the plight of ordinary Palestinians, Iraqis, African Americans and Mexicans on both sides of the border, as well as the ongoing mistreatment of women.
In a brief prose poem ("For Jon") she writes simply and devastatingly: "A young man returns from Iraq to American History class. Wears shorts that expose his left leg from the knee down — metal structure ending in a size twelve shoe. The shock is not this limb but the other — his loss laid bare by smooth brown skin; how the full calf traces a beautiful arc to a muscled ankle that anchors his power to the ground."
One of her strongest poems ("Hunger") ends with these stanzas: "Last helping of spaghetti in the pan/when you're the oldest — the two siblings/wanting more. Scared at night,/when Mama's at work, that approaching/footsteps aren't your father's/or that they are./Anger that flares when you're asked/to sign the petition — to keep/the percentage of poor people/down — in the urban-renewed projects/that kept your family from sleeping/on streets./Never growing beyond your past./Not being able to sit at the table —/even when you realize —/there is more/than one way —/to starve."
"Ours Is a Flower," Aitches' second book after the award-winning "Fishing for Light" (Wings Press 2009), addresses wider cultural territory than her deeply personal first title, yet it remains at the same level of poetic accomplishment. The same applies to Haddad's "Wildflower. Stone." — her second book since the critically praised "Somewhere Between Mexico and a River Called Home" (Pecan Grove 2004). In both new books, these poets sometimes veer toward explicit statement at the blurred boundary between verse and prose, while their earlier books tended to be more lyrical. Their approaches in all four books remain valid and worthy of our serious reading.


Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/default/a...


www.marianhaddad.com

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