Sunday, October 25, 2009
Review of ANONYMOUS FOX by Naomi Feigelson Chase, (Turning Point, Cincinnati, OH, 2009)
By Barbara Bialick
ANONYMOUS FOX is a book you can dive right into even though the familiar yet obscure images keep you wondering what deftly sculpted insight you’re about to experience. One thing you’ll notice right away is that the author’s “veins secrete/Ink and tap water” and like “a cat keeps its own couch/I keep mine.”
She’s an individualist and yet, at the same time, just like the masses would, she dedicates this book to her grandson, Matthew, who will read it some day and see both beauty and horror concerned his grandmother, who named this collection after a dead fox Nadia wants to take the tail of, use it for a paintbrush and “bury the rest./It’s my fox isn’t it?/...As for its fur, the author says sardonically, “why not keep it…like Jews’ hair stored/in an Argentine barn/for future use…/Isn’t all death a good riddance,/Lewd providence,/Quitting earth of the useless,/The dirties,/While we expedient managers/Go about our cleansing business.”
All through the book you’ll discover metaphors from nature that turn around and surprise you. For example, in “American Brunhilde” she starts with “Summers, I sleep circled with fans,/In kind Stygian light./Shades drawn./My dreams can’t be spied on/I’ve heard folks in the next town,/So fearful of terrorists,/They’ve painted their doors shut./The mailman puts their letters in the trees.”
On the page previous, the poem “Cold Comfort” is taken from winter, “Those snowy peaks, natures’s scarred darlings,/Comfort me, like Artemis’ one hundred breasts/…Like Pittsburgh winters,/When Zadi pulled my sled up Pocusset Street…/The furred pelf of trees,/Bristling with what./Stark successes now,/ Black matter in a thousand years.”
The person to whom all this is dedicated appears in the book now and then is revealed as a fellow poet or doctor in training… Her grandson wants to know if he can pick the white flowers on the pea plants. To quote her own quote: “How do peas get into pods?” he asks. “Call me when it happens.” A universal concept of where there is youth there is hope… But then again, she reveals in “I Can Tell You Now”: “I can tell you now, I never expected this—to be old and ugly,/To turn away from the beach,/Struggle with the lid of a jar…I took misfortune’s road to the forest./Saw the warlock’s house and walked right in…”
Some of these poems were previously printed in prestigious publications like Harvard magazine and Iowa Review. She won the Flume Press poetry chapbook award and she’s published a variety of poetry books and chapbooks, nonfiction books, and fiction.
The publisher left no obvious note of the book’s price, which indicates what you may agree with when you read it, that this book is priceless…or in any case, certainly worth a read.