Friday, November 26, 2010

"What Elegant Prayer Can I Pray Now?"

I know I recently said I wouldn't make discussions of books a regular part of What We Covet anymore, and I totally meant it. Except within a few days of making that decision, I found out that a poet friend of mine by the name of Nancy Henry recently released a new collection of work called Sarx. When she put out a request asking if anyone might be able to review it for her, the only possible answer was yes.

At 124 pages, this is a sizable collection. Not a single one of those pages is wasted. Nancy's personality comes through in each poem. A few poems call to mind Wallace Stevens, a few Carl Sandburg, but mostly what I hear is Nancy's voice. Lines like, "There's plenty of room on this Olympus-- / okay, so it's a hill, / maybe more of a gentle rise, / but it's what we've got" and "It's like Fantasia on acid / in Surround-sound" bring her slanted world-view into focus through humor. I mean, come on--you have to at least respect a woman who's willing to name a poem "Amazing Rocket Boobs to Mars." And "Talking Dirty" is worth the read just for the line about logophilia. (Trust me.)

But she also has her quieter moments, such as when she writes, "I am waiting / for you to make me a blossom / that will open / into something bright with nectar / from this hard stunted bud." One of my favorite poems in the book, "Hymn," is a prime example of how you don't have to set off all sorts of bells and whistles to convey something poetically. What's more is that if ever anyone truly channeled Walt Whitman in a poem, Nancy is that person and "Hymn" is that poem.

Henry also has a message to share. While it's present in every piece, to an extent, it's stated fully in "Photograph": "and whatever scares you // do it harder." Hearing Nancy say it makes me want to do it. I think you'll feel the same when you read her work.

Buy through Moon Pie Press for $11.00.


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