Friday, August 31, 2007

Begin at Once

I just read Beth Joselow's new book, Begin at Once. It really got to me. If it doesn't get to you, it's because something else got to you first.

Beth Joselow, Begin at Once, Chax Press (2007)

The poems in Begin at Once are truly investigations, never simply statements of things the poet already claims to know. They wander– sometimes lightly, sometimes darkly, sometimes with a quiet but sharp irony, but always generously– over all sorts of contrasting subjects with a startling insight that traces the swift and shocking changes of a life lived in a world that’s genuinely right here, right now. Beth Joselow’s poems discover, and uncover, keen truths that always surprise and unsettle and make us think again about things we believed we understood.There’s real wisdom in Begin At Once, and the world sure does need more of that.
— Mark Wallace

Joselow’s poems are “tender numbers” for “people who used to be hungry”. We’ve been chowing down on the drill, organizing our lives around days of rain/bells with colors/gears without mesh until we experience more numbers/further use as “…elusive optimism/skin of ice…” So how do we unsettle the daily bout? Joselow suggests we take each poem as “one more time” to be “simply there” “In support of ________” …”To contain _______” so that we have some unslotted space to “sit down now, begin at once.”
— Tina Darragh

Begin at Once is a terrific collection because Beth Joselow is a writer with a great gift, but it’s also a tease. Because this is a book, all 104 pages of it, that leaves you wanting to read so very much more.
-- Ron Silliman


Tina Darragh said...

"Jackpot!" has a line early on "Everything now reminds me/Of something I used to have, love, see, believe/Envy, dislike, fear, enjoy, dread, sleep with." and it reminded me of something you said once, Doug, on the back porch of your 18th St. house, and then reading on the poem is dedicated to you! I felt "Jackpot!"

douglang said...

I was stunned by "Jackpot!" -- then I got to the end and saw my name…

And there was,
"Memory is stronger,
in "Simply There."

And there is that great poem with all the weaponry, "Tantrum."

And "Self-Regard" and ""Stands (Adams-Morgan)" and "Set with Furniture."

I guess it's the case with all poetry that the text is really a kind of subtext, with the "actual" text in back of it, but it seemed
particularly true of "Begin at Once," where you feel the weight of what's left out, or "unsaid."