Thursday, July 21, 2011

beautifully alien refraction by Miriam E. Walsh

Review by Reza Tokaloo
Poetry Book Review

Book 1: Random Series

By Miriam E. Walsh

Ardornata Publishing (2011)

Miriam Walsh’s first book (*in a series of 4 books of her poetry) in her Random Book series titled: “beautifully alien refraction,” is a smattering of various poetic forms that are both visual and audible. The title of the book is taken from her poem “dispel 96” (p.14) and displays many of the themes that occur throughout this lengthy volume (140 pages).

In the first 15-20 pages of her work, Ms. Walsh hangs her poems like paintings, as they take on familiar patterns found in much modern poetry: spirals, donuts, steps, diamonds, words descending, and words ascending, etc... Much of this geometric visual art evaporates in favor of long prose in multiple stanza forms with stanzas between 3 and 7 lines long.

Thematically, Ms. Walsh sets her sights on much religious and philosophical metaphors in poems such as: “Of Gods 02,” “Mayan Amidst 00,” “Spirit Walk,” and “Leaving Eden 99.” The pervading imagery derives itself from a Catholic background that might be explained by Ms. Walsh’s residency in the southern Massachusetts town of Bridgewater.

Much of this work feels derivative as certain phrases and words appear consistently in many of her pieces such as: “I am,” “halos,””soul,” and celestial bodies appear play a heavy role in a quasi-mystic imagery: the sun, stars, universe, etc..

Overall, this volume of poetry display most of the common forms and musicality found in the greater body of work coming out of southern Massachusetts over the last 12-15 years. What I found to be frustrating at times (as a reader) was that Ms. Walsh was not ending her work properly. Her pen seemed to want to keep going, looking for that special phrase to captivate and enlighten when her poems had already made their justice fruitful enough. A good example is the last 3 lines of her poem “the quietening 97” (yes that is the title of this piece): “it is the quietening/ and it is anything/but quiet.”

Ms. Walsh has obviously amassed a large body of poetic work over the course of her life. Publishing 4 books of poetry attests to a high level of dedication to writing while working in industries ranging from the arts and health care. And it is not surprising the influence and exposure to these parts of her life have nurtured the stories and poems she has compiled into this collection. To me, it is not whether a poem is simply good or bad, it is what the poet leaves the reader (and the listener) with afterward that has relevance.

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