Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Poems of Survival. Marc Widershien. ( Poplar Editions PO BOX 57 Boston, Ma. 02131) $9.

Marc Widershien and I have have had a long association. First introduced by Cynthia Brackett Vincent, the publisher of the "Aurorean" in the late 90's, I had the privilege to publish Widershien's lyrical memoir of Boston, "The Life of All Worlds" in 2001. Since then, Widershien has revived his poetry career and is a well-known, working poet in the Boston-area. His ambitions have not ended there however. Widershien has formed his own small press, "Poplar Editions," that has released his poetry collection: "Poems of Survival." And indeed, if you know Widershien, you know he is a survivor. And he has survived to grace us with his evocative, and sometimes stunning collection of poetry. In all of Widershien's poems there is a strong sense of musicality. So it is no wonder that we learn in the introduction written by the composer Aaron Blumenfeld, that Blumenfeld has set more than a few of Widershien's poems to music. The composer writes of Widershien's work:

" His poetry evokes the incredible futility and powerlessness of individual human beings', dreams and aspirations against the inexorable passage of time and the the immensity and power of the universe.... Marc's poetry reminds me of a question my father once asked me after we listened to a piece of symphonic music together. He asked, "What does it mean?" That is why I greatly appreciate Marc's poetry...because his poetry shares that trait with music."

Widershien's poetry explores the classic ontological themes of the passage of time, etc...through his astute observations of nature, and all the players on its stage. In "Walden III" Widershien is a modern day Jewish Thoreau, observing the organism of nature and it's inevitable cycles at Walden Pond in Concord, Mass:

"The ripples below me are driven
toward the shore's body.
Once again, I find myself in this ecology's
giant organism.

Hieroglyphs sketched by wind
on white birch, mushrooms sucking life
out of dead barks,
--how the earth sustains its parasites.
The floaters bob in the Pond
dividing child from adult,
the shallow from the deep waters
yellowed with urine.

yet-life's cycling story book
drives endlessly
--on. (6)

In the brilliant poem "Cutting the Air Way," Widershien imagines a bunch of "ancient birds," on the Boston Common, and their deity, an old woman who feeds them religiously:

"those ancient birds those ancestral voices
squabbling for the squatter's rights to a lamppost
tell the tale of the tribe as well as any rhapsode--
fluid continuous diagonals of flocks carving
out boundaries obscure to man....

They wait for the old woman
dragging a garbage bag filled with feed
who comes to the park every day
she is the goddess of Boston Common,
a sister to their metaphysical flights. (8)

Widershien offers us an arresting portrait of what at first sight is a very pedestrian scene.

Widershien is a PhD, but don't hold that against him. There are classical and literary references, but one does not have to be a scholar to appreciate his work. The only requirement is to be a fully-fleshed human being.

Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Update

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