Monday, July 18, 2011

Primitive Awe By Miriam E. Walsh

Primitive Awe
By Miriam E. Walsh
Ardornata Publishing, 2011
142 pages

Reviewed by Pam Rosenblatt

Miriam E. Walsh’s Primitive Awe published on June 4, 2011 is 142 pages of fantastical along with experimental poetry that intrigues and arouses curiosity. A former mental health worker at a detox unit, a drafter in the field of engineering, and a graphic designer, Walsh has written a series of four books released in 2011. Primitive Awe is the second book of her random series. Her cover of the book is her own design of a body, complicated yet simple at the same time.

A complex poet, Walsh rarely makes the read simple. But it is a read well the while, though straight answers may never develop, even after analysis of the poems.
In the beginning pages of Primitive Awe, Walsh uses words that may require a dictionary to decipher and often refers to Greek mythological gods. The “difficult” words slowly ease into “easier” words as the book develops. Her metaphors and use of description through economy of words are articulate and wonderful, as seen in the poem, “eros of thanatos 03”.

For better understanding of this poem, “Eros” is the Greek mythological god of sexual love and beauty as well as a god of fertility. He’s known as “Cupid” in Roman mythology. His father is “Ares”, the Greek god of war; his mother is “Aphrodite”, the Greek goddess of love and beauty.

“Thanatos” is a less recognized Greek mythological figure who “was the daemon personification of death.” Throughout ancient Greek literature, “Thanatos” was often implied to but rarely seen. He’s the son of “Nyx” (night) and “Erebos” (Darkness). His brother “Hypnos” (Sleep) is a twin to “Thanatos”.

Now, in “eros of thanatos”, Walsh combines Eros, Thanatos, Aphrodite, Ares, Nyx, and Hypnos to create a somewhat confusing and vividly descriptive work. For instance, Walsh writes:

I am picking upon
a wound again,
licking upon this cut
just to feel it,
just to taste it,
just to bleed
and make sure my heart
is still beating.
Here Walsh suggests Ares and his calling for war, while in the poem’s final stanza Walsh implies that Nyx, the god of night, Erebos, the god of darkness, and Hypnos, the god of Sleep “exist” through economy of word and precise, simple word usage:

to exist
as if it never happened
to glow
when it would be
too easy,
to grow dim,
to stop,
to disappear
to sleep.

As the poems progress in this 142 page poetry book, the poems tend to be clearer, though sometimes they center around the world of the poet herself and are still not easily understood.

this 03

a rebellion
against the hope
imposed upon us.

it is a quiet honesty
that makes a cavern
of your throat
for all it wants to say;
with its quiet
fire-lit paintings;
its primitive awe.

it is an empty place
for that
which will never form.
a space that is
a memory
of a shape
it had imagined
and decided
will do just as well.

but it is also

a hollow
that breathes,
a grass
receiving snow.

and it is the
only place
where threat
has no echo.

like all things
in life,
merely a ritual
to forget dying

and daily prepare for it.

In “this 03”, Walsh uses the words “primitive awe”, two words that make up the title of her book. Perhaps this poem is filled with “awe”, a word that gently explains the whole meaning of the book. Yet, perhaps not.

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