Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Miriam Kotzin’s The Body’s Bride

Miriam Kotzin’s The Body’s Bride highlights the author’s extensive range of voices, which is evident from the different tones of the three sections of this book of poems.

Nature imagery dominates part one: “The trush’s song glints like opal glass” “the feckless wing has turned its back and gone.” The emotions of the narrator’s voice are connected to the various ‘moods’ of nature . In “Nuptial”, the “brazen backyard bride” and the old pear tree without fruit are linked: “Spring’s a passing blight each year.”

The second part reveals the poet’s sly sense of humor. Her sustainability poems have a cutting wit: “Just praise sustainability and keep your margins wide” “Claim the penis mightier than the word? My darling, pending proof, I am not stirred.” The rest of the poems are clever evocations of other poems, as in “Thirteen Ways of Reading a Poem – after Stevens” “I do not know what I prefer / The mixing of metaphors / Or the tangle of images / The poet clearing his throat / Or just after.” Here the poetic voice is turned in on itself and its poems; word play and games with language are on display.

Part three grows darker in mood and style. A family in turmoil leaves its mark upon the poet's voice. In “Thundergust” “My mother used to push me out” in “The Marriage” “She stood, small, beside / him, stood nullified/ vanquished.” Family tension is further laid out in the poetic narrative “The Listener” and fills the remainder of the poems with a sense of dread.

The collection ends in “Cemetery Visit” where the “grass is purpled with flowers, / an uncertain bloom / at the mercy of mowers.” After the turmoil of her upbringing, the narrator is set to place stones on her parent's graves, a Jewish act of loyalty to a mother and father who engendered dark emotions.

Kotzin’s range and styles are truly broad and capable. These poems have the impression of a strong hand at work, knowing exactly what it needs to do to create powerful language, images and rhythms.

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