Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Kristy Odelius' Bee Spit

I found Kristy Odelius’ chapbook Bee Spit at Dancing Girl Press and thoroughly enjoyed the read. This was published in 2007 and Kristy Odelius has her own web-site that conveniently features one of the poems I had “dog-eared.” Ms. Odelius is an Assistant Professor of English at North Park University in Chicago, Illinois and will soon have published a full length collection of poems at Shearsman Books titled Strange Trades in addition to being nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her poem “Vertigo to Eros.”

Now before I begin reviewing her poem “Third Grade,” please take a moment to read it using the link below:
I love this poem because it takes quite a few ideas that were still voiced when I was a small child, such as “sit stare drop/(don’t talk) your eyes/under the table” and pieces it all together into a girl’s life. Then of course, I love the odds and ends Ms. Odelius pulls together for the way girls play: “Learn to mix paint/from spit and berries, write/your name on the sidewalk…” for these are things most kids do growing up. What is interesting is that she goes from a sense of innocence and moves towards the end to darker notions for women’s lives and uses contradictory comparisons. In the beginning there is the vague comparison of “birthday parties and funerals” which piques your interest but is easily passed over to the next few lines. Then it becomes more abrupt, especially in the third stanza “Acquaint yourself with death’s low/whistle, know it better than the rules/of Chinese jump rope.” That line had me thinking for quite a while and I’m still not sure what to make of it. I love that the title of the poem increases the discomfort of the final ending. How can a girl in the third grade have a life described in such a way? From starting out young and told to be quiet, listen, observe, to experimenting with odds and ends in a girl’s while growing up and then finally ending with a sinister sound. The very last line concludes with a somber tone but also hopeful with the words “glory, glory.” What do you think of a poem like this? I think of a girl who loses her innocence but it is hard to pinpoint exactly how. This poem got me thinking, and I hope it does the same for you.

Another poem I enjoyed was “I Called You Darling 7 Ways.” It is the winding down of a relationship told from the perspective of the woman who doesn’t want to let go. I love the odd imagery used for describing the relationship in lines like “You bent the lost skyscraper over my knee./With a lap of glass, I called you darling.” I especially love the lines “I called you, on the phone./I called you darling./The phone warned me.” How many people in relationships that you know who regret the phone calls they make as a relationship is ending? I know I’m in that boat, along with many others who have made the mistake of calling the one they love and realizing that the one they love may not feel that way anymore. There are lots of snapshot-like images in this poem that bring about the feel of the relationship without many words based on human emotion. “I harbored paint-smudge behind my knee./You called me “sad.”/” The word “sad” is one of the only words that names an emotion. The rest of the poem focuses on moments between the two people. At the end, the woman tries to hold on and earns the response of “baby, don’t make it harder than it is.” A trite remark. To which she responds with “I mocked you a little.” Then finally it ends with the man leaving for good, and her last line ends with “I called you darling.” The ending line clinches the whole poem for me because break-ups often feel one-side. One person is done and leaves, the other is still holding on, holding out hope and still in love. This poem is a refreshing change to the majority of break-up poems out there and if you have a chance to read it in this chapbook then you absolutely should find a copy or buy one.

As always, there are many fine poems in the collection, I am only providing a small taste. I hope you enjoy Kristy Odelius’ poems at her web-site (just poke around using the link above) and will pick up a collection of her poems when you stumble upon them.

Thanks for reading, please stop by tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…

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