Many years ago I listened to a mystical twilight album by Jane Siberry during a particularly late college (nearly) all-nighter at a the home of a college buddy. Siberry’s lyrics were fresh and unmanaged, like clean crisp unfolded laundry. Between the fabric of those words were voids, spaces, and the yearning texture of longing in the poet’s voice. I sat in the wee hours in my friend’s home listening to Siberry’s peculiar songs and absorbing a landscape solitude that lived by its own pressing and elusive logic. I was returning to a strange new home. This collection has some of those same qualities.
Language, much like dance, has a way of being reinvented, when an artist is trying to get at something that doesn’t convey under the familiar syntax. It’s an ongoing liberation and it’s hard won. elena botts is finding that rough, unsettled music in her works with all of the unsteadiness and brokenness of 21st century promises that litter our sidewalks, schoolyards and oceans. We live in unsettled times and some poets bring a hand-held camera by choice, words and ideas jerking in and out of focus, interrupting each other while somehow the music of the extended shot holds.
“…how the backyards of childhood, yesterdays like
little dogs that ran away
from home, close into the butterfly
glances and simple reenactments
of your freckled sideways glances
swinging and swinging under the canopy of spring, brewing nostalgia until the trees prematurely bend,
as if the blood in our arteries
were an afterthought in the so, nearly tragic underlying stillness…”
Let your ears absorb some of the logic here. Listen to the jagged stops and starts and allow these works to neither comfort nor perplex you. They are a dialect with built-in contradictions, blind spots and double backs. We need this: to be sent out into the danger of not knowing while we return to the sensing. Every new generation must get us there with a new and troubling orchestration. Read these pieces three times. Once with the “rational” on pause. Again for the music. And the third time because good things come in threes … except when we expect them to.
Don’t let these works meet your expectations, they are better than that and naturally resistant.
—Lucas Smiraldo, past poet laureate of the city of Tacoma and author of the poetry collection, The Thing That Gathers
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