Hello. I thought I'd post a link and a section of this thoughtful review of Where Rockets Burn Through. I think the best reviews are those where you learn more than just about the thing being reviewed - and are taken into a wider and deeper context - and this is a fine example.

The author, John Field, writes,
"Where Rockets Burn Through demonstrates the range and versatility of SF poetry. In its first section, A Home In Space, we encounter Hollywood’s epic establishing shots and the trials of the colonists. Sarah Westcott’s O, for example, presents a serifed, majuscule O floating on a white page. This O is beautiful, perfect, but also lonely and fragile; it’s a dramatic exclamation and a barely audible gasp. It’s a zero, nothing; it’s already ended. Too little, too late. Westcott’s shifting riddle characterizes the planet as playful yet ineffable. ‘what am I turning quietly and fast / in the great I am, I am here / I am bristling and crusted stripped and pocked / I am teeming and meaning what am I meaning – / where did I come from what cupped me a whole / my core and my aura where rockets burn through’. The repetition of the phrase ‘I am’ evokes God’s voice speaking through the burning bush in Exodus 3:14, ‘I am who I am’ and suddenly that majuscule O becomes an unbroken ring. Infinite. Why, when faced with such beauty, would we design rockets to burn through the aura, as suggestive as this word is of a spiritual essence, a halo crowning creation? Our violent, linear, penetrative behaviour is characterized as at odds with the planet. Perhaps it would be better off without us."

It is very gratifying when something you have made resonates with someone else. A writer, or artist, must eventually set free a poem, or book, or whatever and it finds its own place in the world independent of the creator. And while it is true that a poem is never finished, only abandoned (I don't know who said that, but I didn't come up with it) - they are multi-valent things open to multiple interpretative possibilities.
Likewise, I would be surprised if most artistic endeavours start off with just one clear intention. Mine certainly don't.
There is no right or wrong way to read a poem, there is nothing to 'get' like a riddle, or a puzzle. Indeed, the misunderstanding that you have to be clever, or learned, to understand a 'difficult' piece of art, and that it has one 'proper' meaning is unfortunately common, and one I have come across quite a lot of times, even (especially) among people with English degrees.
Think of Howard Hodgkin's paintings - where you tumble into the frame and through the paint, like gazing at the sky. More people should go on flights of the abstract..
Ha! Sermon's a link to the review..


Popular Posts