The Poetry of Joseph Zaccardi







Joseph Zaccardi's review of Of Gravity and Tides by CB Follett

Of Gravity and Tides, by CB Follett
Many Voices Press 2013
113 pages, Paperback, $16.00
ISBN: 978-09795185-7-7

Of Gravity and Tides is the perfect title for this new collection of poems by CB Follett. Her poems dwell in the understory, and they are, as the title implies, awash in the primordial sea. In their breadth they are universal by employing incantation, lyrical nuance, and the natural music of language. Follett’s poems convey intense emotional and humanistic involvement, as in “In One Day, This:” where she displays and uncovers the harm allowed by the collective we. I offer a few excerpts as an example: “A woman with carrot hair / lives only to stare at the sea,” and, “A yellowish man in the supermarket line / is eating a baguette of bread / like a lollypop / the checkout boy spills a roll of quarters …/ He blames the bread man.” I think of the gravity and the tides as place-markers; alas, they are close to the breastbone of the poet and the reader alike; they aim and find their target with laser-like precision, as in the penultimate line from “Walking on Water,” where Follett writes, “His heart is damaged and wasting.” What evokes this poet’s emotions, her use of painterly bathing of the poems, is her deft touch, her brush stroke, the way words evoke and juxtapose the ineffable with the weightiness of understanding and of knowing. In “I Talk to My Son,” she opens her heart with, “You… / Can you feel the tremolo / of my need to be seen by you,” and in the right-facing page, in the first stanza of “Every Day, Daughter,” she composes this: “…I write you everyday –– / mostly in my head…” then in the last stanza she ends with “We dress in broken bones. / It is like that with us ––“. What I relish in these devastating narrative poems and in the nature poems that follow are the pellucid depictions of the personal, though it is difficult to imagine that a poet who writes such emotionally charged lines can hold her pen steady on the page; one can almost feel the blood leaving her veins. This aura of presence is in many of her poems. Follett begins with the glimpse of a forms made up of wilderness. She sees the end and the beginning; what is in between she leaves for us to discover, and that is the mission of a poet, to find the primitive and bring that unconscious force to the here and now. The poems in Of Gravity and Tides are remarkable and fulfilling, readers will be astonished by the tides and the gravity of Follett’s poems.

Published in Marin Poetry Center Newsletter, July 2013

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