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Shaken & Stirred Offers Something for Everyone Nov 14, 2002
Shaken & Stirred is like a huge marketplace where one can walk through and pick into the basket of their soul the poetry that best suits their own world.
This is a collection with great potential and one to which a reader of modern poetry will want to come back for inspiration, again and again.
Opening poet PF Allen uses idyllic imagery combined with modern thought: "Four syllable word martinis and tiffany lamps". Here the reader will find echoes of their own everyday life. Allen's poetry is surreal and humorous, as with the poem Jesus Christ, Roy and Ted at 7 Eleven and her experience is easily discernible in the obvious care taken over every line that is committed to the page.
Donna Biffar's poetry is mature and precise. Anyone who appreciates the work of Carol Ann Duffy or Selima Hill will be drawn to Biffar. Her lines depict images of growing up, loving, and travelling through emotional maturation. Such poetry, it seems, is best written by women poets-as the feelings exposed are very specific and real.
Heather Grace, the editor of this collection, is perhaps the poet who exhibits the greatest love of life. Her poems are filled with a deep inner passion for the most ordinary things. Not every poet can express this. Grace successfully makes a poem become a short film where everything can be imagined just the way the author wants us to see them. In a Café and Afternoons show this with clarity. Her best afternoons are "shaken and stirred" with imagination, just like this collection. Although she sometimes finds it hard to escape the obvious topics, such as the September 11 tragedy, Heather still reflects these topics in a much different light than an ocean of other poets would, and do. However, the main thing is-the passion is always there, even in a cup of coffee.
Jan Oskar Hansen is the only poet who gives Shaken `a non-English language' cultural angle. Although he writes in English, he has not lost the Nordic sentiment. Even in his brief interview he admits to the strong influences of Scandinavian literature, old and new. His poetry is concise and wise. The wisdom is revealed in poems Serenity - Their whisper is a gentle ripple/against the strand of time... and in others like Portrait and Homecoming, whilst the beauty of metaphors is expressed in August and Town in Italy. Hansen uses no unnecessary words.
The poetry of Dazz Jackson is filled with political influences and arguments where the poet uses language to display cries for freedom, racial equality, human understanding. Such themes dominate the work of many poets, but rarely do they do so with a compassion to match Jackson's.
A few stolen kisses, the beer unleashing/all sensibility and with it a truth/consuming... Truth and the hunger for it, in poetry and life, is the dominant feeling one gets after reading Athena Karnesis's poem Truth, a theme repeated in poems 1947 and Nightly Judgement. Life memories are beautifully displayed for all to bite on in The Dance and Mother's Hands, but it is the cunning use of adjectives and metaphors that makes Athena's poems so readable.
`A modern Emily Dickinson' is probably the closest description of Lyn Lifshin. Her works are mature, exact, often sharp. This is a female sharpness, one of matriarchal images, daughters, the Madonna. Uncommonly, Lifshin often becomes cold in places where one expects warmth. Conversely, she boils with passion in places where someone else (read less experienced poet) would come across as common and plain. And that unpredictability is absolute splendour as used here.
Dr. Maiti uses imagery of snow, sand, sky to express his adoration for the beauty of the Asian landscape but his poems are equally filled with love of existential feeling. Calcutta is the Mecca of his poetry. The multicoloured days and streets are a stage set up for philosophical thinking.
The Scottish poet, Hugh McCracken, is unlike anyone in this collection. He runs with a Henry Miller-like hunger through cafés, concentration camps, passages of time, religion, even aliens. His poetry is the most varied in choice of topics and shows true originality. Even when one looks carefully and deeply, one cannot find strong influences of almost any poet in McCracken. He truly speaks with language of his own.
Andrew J. Muller is the most mysterious poet. Obviously influenced by landscapes and travel, his poetry voyages through emotions like a Fenland train. Using rhyme in poetry can often cause predictability and vagueness, but Muller uses rhyme cunningly, and thus avoids taking the reader on an already familiar journey through clichéd language.
The most gentle poetry comes from the Argentine born Carmen Ruggero. Although she is represented with only four poems, she reflects warmth and sincerity through and through. The poem for her daughter shows motherly love, whilst poems The House that Floyd Built and The Passage express cosiness and homely sentiment.
Aspects of modern life and classical poetry influence Wynn Wheldon's work. He is a family man even in poetry (or perhaps he sees poetry as his own family), but the family in his mind is more than sacred. Not just plain and simple love, but the adoration of family life and actions are easily spotted in his work. His language and standpoint is both ironic and witty, and this gives real joy to the reader.
Although David Whippman's poems are quite narrative, they are at the same time analytical, especially of relationships. Different Myths and Relationships in a Landscape mirror the affiliation of two souls. I hate the way the clock cuts time... the opening line of Time Piece is one of the most memorable. It perhaps sums up the aspect of time and expression as the two dimensions in which poetry resides. It certainly explains the way Whippman writes his work.
A great collection of poetry from around the world. Oct 5, 2002
This anthology features thirteen up and coming poets from all over the globe. Two of my favorite mid-western USA poets - Donna Biffer and PF Allen are well represented. Heather Grace has selected a group of poems that play off each other so well that the blending of these separate voices into one volume amplifies their song.
I like seeing the work of poets I am familiar with in this anthology - letting me explore new work and new poets along side familiar friends like the haunting "In Stings" by PF Allen. This anthology is definitely a must have for anyone who is interested in keeping abreast of next great wave of poetic voices.
These new voices include:
PF Allen, Donna Biffar, Heather Grace, Jan Oskar Hansen, Dazz Jackson, Athena Karnesis, Lyn Lifshin, Prasenjit Maiti, Hugh McCracken, Andrew J. Muller, Wynn Wheldon, and David Whippman