Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Robin Schiff's Revolver

I found Robyn Schiff’s collection of poems, Revolver, at my local library. It was published in 2008 by the University of Iowa Press and the poems take cunning twists and turns throughout. Robyn Schiff has perfected the skill of taking items that to anyone else would seem random or be considered tangents and tying them all together in a thread of words that all relate to the poem. I am happy to share several of the poems below:

Luckily, you can click the link below where Poets & Writers have included the poem “Iron Door Knocker the Shape of a Man’s Face, by Freetham” below:

What I love about this poem, and many of her other poems in the collection, is the absolute surprise in the pairings of images and concepts that somehow all relate together. From the idea that maggots should have overtaken the dead finch on her back porch to a door-knocker that has a man’s face as its shape and back to mayflies clinging to a screen door eventually opened by her grandmother to let the reader in, they all tie together. Some of the lines I love are: “I used to believe the wild/takes care of itself. I used to believe/maggots arise/like a spring of death/that need only be tapped,/but the flow of incarnation/is much too slow…” The word “incarnation” which implies divinity and is tied to maggots is a gruesome twist I appreciate. All the events in the poem take place concerning the door and back porch where “A swarm of mayflies clutching/the wire mesh on their only night on earth.” Again, seemingly unrelated things all tied to a particular theme which is the title of this poem. Well done!

Another poem I enjoy is titled “Eighty-blade Sportsman’s Knife, by Joseph Rodgers & Sons.” The counterbalance of comparisons is astounding and here is what I mean: “it arrives cold at the neck, a vampire knife/transforming in air from sheath/to edge and back again in a pulse like/the unaccountable translucent blades/of a helicopter;” Aren’t those lines terrific? To compare the sound of knife blades to that of a helicopter’s is a gratifying comparison you can hear for yourself while reading. In the poem it appears that she digresses but she always brings her train of thought back to her point: “Splayed it is/a bouquet of all the ways a point mutates. It/contains the bayonets piercing/the chain mail at the end of the mind. Screw/driver. Bottle opener. Isolation/wire cutter…When we use the/tool intended for the job/we are neutral.” This is a long poem and I couldn’t possible encompass all of its ingenuity but I hope that you will find a copy and read it for yourself.

Every poem in the collection is similar in its ingenious use of uncalculable twists and turns that always bring you back to Schiff’s original title and point. I hope you will find and pick up a copy of her book for yourself, it will keep you riveted.

Thanks always for reading, please click in tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…

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