poetry delivers a satisfying aesthetic.
Here the reader discovers poems with
rhythm and rhyme. Formal poems
interweave contemporary themes with
tragic myths of incest and infanticide.
For example, in her poem, “Personal
Mythologies” the mother eats her
daughter and throws away the bones,
which roll in the mud collecting “twigs
Her poetry is tender and brutal; wise
and cultured. These are the poems of
someone who has passed through danger:
threats offered by family, friends,
strangers, self, alcohol, drugs and
crime. Still, there is life.
This kind of survival leads to an
intense perception of nature,
reminiscent of Emily Dickinson. Take for
example her poem, “Kundalini.”
Skin the snake abandoned
stretches on my windowsill--
a yard long end to end, a length
of willingness to die and live again
I kneel, all admiration,
chant my name until, too often sung,
it thins to syllables. A thousand skins
shed off the tongue.
And this exerpt from her poem,
Consider armadillos: provoked,
they roll up in a ball with confidence
they’ll outwait any predator; when
their shells hold tight. I, too, would
And this exerpt from her poem, “Datura.”
I choose datura from the racks of seed
And nurture them with care, although
Up poisonous and beautiful. I need
Their syrup-scented trumpet-blooms.
Like vigor cures me of the winter, so
I choose datura. From the racks of seed
Michele Leavitt has mastered form and
content. It’s obvious she has
experienced life. That's a winning
combination. As a result, her
poems are classic and will endure.
—Reviewed by Mary Ann