Saturday, April 05, 2014

Mother, One More Thing Poems by Carla Schwartz

Mother, One More Thing
Poems by Carla Schwartz
Copyright 2014 by Carla Schwartz
Turning Point Books
Cincinnati, OH 45254
Softbound,  79 pages,  no price
ISBN 9781625490728

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

Carla Schwartz like many a daughter thinks a lot about her departed mother. Unlike many daughters, however, she writes poetry about the woman who birthed her.  So, while this poetry book is about her mother, it is ultimately about herself. Whenever one writes about someone, it seems the choice of subject matter of each poem, the words and the descriptions reveal more about the author than the subject – though the subject is also bared in the process


The box descends
braced by planks
and strapped to hands,
square, thin, raw.
Pine, like all others like it,
except for the remains.

We commence the burial
with shovels full of sandy soil,
our final send-off to what now is just a corpse
the body whose womb I traversed,
who held me through the worst turns.

I held her, those last days
when, to rays streaming through the room,
to Death itself
my mother – joyous, rapt,
proposed the seeming impossible task:
Let’s go outside!      

There are also a number of poems dealing with sex – some maybe are about her mother, some about Ms. Schwartz, some are a bit more explicit than others, but whatever, her poems keep the reader interested and moving through the book. 

The final poem is the title poem and reveals, perhaps, the most of Ms. Schwartz sensitive nature as opposed to what might more carnal or more nostalgic writing:
Mother, One More Thing

A Wellfleet house with sloped ceilings and white walls,
pink light through the trees early morning.
Three large casements on two walls and skylight.
The ceiling follows the slope of the roof.
The casement on the north wall, raised.
Outside, inside our bedroom.

Copies of famous painting, sprinkled throughout
in subdued reds, browns, blacks, and whites.
The furnishings, simple, from the fifties,
with minor updates each decade.

Mother, you don’t know this, you haven’t been there.
One corner we never explored. The painting belong
to the owners. In good taste, but not yours.

Best of all, the pond. It has your name.
I slip in every morning for a swim.
Right after you come to me in dream. After I stretch.
After the subjugation resembling love.

What can be most interesting about these poems is that they are often written to throw the reader off – a word missing here or there, as in the last stanza above: “Right after you come to me in dream.”  Most writers would write “in a dream.”  But the effect here to stop the reader if only for an instant, if only to make you think and think again with what follows. There are also a plethora of commas to slow you down or to make you think they are not all necessary. A hidden trick?   Is it conscious and thoughtful?   There are a number of enigmas in her writing and it is up to the reader to decide on it.

And finally, there is a lot of soul bearing, which many poets seem to do, some not as effectively as Ms. Schwartz.

Zvi A. Sesling
Reviewer, Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene
Author, King of the Jungle and Across Stones of Bad Dreams
Publisher, Muddy River Books
Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:19 AM

    Zvi Sesling’s review of Carla Schwartz's book, Mother One More Thing, tells more about the reviewer, than about that book. Mr. Sesling did not let this tenderly voluptuous book get under his skin as is the obligation of any good reviewer. It appears, instead, that he gave it a perfunctory read and scribbled down a few perfunctory notes, which he then fleshed out just as quickly. He might have simply said "Carla Schwartz writes like a girl. I like the book," and left it at that.

    Mr. Sesling makes the inept and unprofessional mistake of identifying the speaker in each poem as the poet herself. In so doing, he reduces her boldly sensual language to confession. His references to sex and carnality border on misogyny, and overshadow his assessment of the sensitivity of her writing. His occasional positive comments are broad-brushed and generic.

    Mr. Sesling ends with a few copy edits concerning her use of commons and words intentionally omitted. I hope, if he continues to write reviews, that he is more respectful and attentive of the books he is critiquing. This review dismisses the intimacy and red-bloodedness that so many good poets risk, among them Carla Schwartz, who not only takes that risk, but stands tall in taking it.