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Atmosphered by Eléna Rivera (Oystercatcher Press)

Atmosphered by Eléna Rivera (Oystercatcher Press)

In her act of translating those fragmentary pearl moments which had originally belonged to Isabelle Baladine Howald, to which I referred in the last blog, Eléna Rivera revealed herself to be a poet: one who understands the contours of language. In translating the opening movement of ‘August’ she had written ‘Word is too brief’ as though to call up in front of us that memorable line from Bunting, ‘Pens are too light take a chisel to write’. In this companion Oystercatcher volume of her own poems, Atmosphered, that hard-edged clarity, graven, is evident from the opening ‘Holes. / In the ambit. / Cherished. In the box / Holes. In the container / Not alone in this.’

It is one of the abilities of poetry to bring a fresh sense of life to language. Communicating through sound as well as sight poetry weaves its traces in tone as well as stone, engaging our eyes with what Prynne referred to as the ‘pearl-bright moments of words moving along the currents of our changing times.’ It could almost be with that in mind that we read Rivera’s delicate tracery of thought:

‘My limits, my language—Mine?

mobile beyond all reason

Metamorphic above a given location

“A reed shaken by wind”

The intricacy of moving forward’

When contemplating our own limits, our own language, we have to question its provenance: whose language is it that I am using? As a friend of mine once put it the ‘awful thing about words is that you don’t know whose mouth they have been in before!’ Words are mobile, they are constructed of those standing emblems on a page ‘shaken by wind’, they move, as Prynne put it, ‘along the currents of our changing times’. However, in the breath of the poet they are also the ‘intricacy of moving forward.’ Currents and changing may well be inseparable from continuity.

These poems are delicate reassertions of an ongoing domesticity of existence:

‘Return. Returns.
The pain of—
Keep cleaning the closet—
Recurrence, vexation, pullulation,

or simply: Keep dusting’

The security offered by language is the flipside of the coin. Repetition of the well-worn epithet, worn thin by usage which may be increasingly commercial, may be unnerving to the acute sensibility of a user of language who has weighed out those tones and contours but

by the image,
that meeting place in language—
Snowed in—
Couldn’t move away’

Read these poems, they are striking and memorable!

Ian Brinton 16th October 2014.

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