I have recently discovered that if I sit down with a poem first thing in the morning, it springs forth from the page like nobody's business with barely an effort from me. I am immersed, entranced, all those things. Emboldened by my discovery, and after dabbling in some of the lit mags - Prairie Fire, The Fiddlehead, Grain, CV2 - I thought I'd tackle a book. Happily, I had plenty to choose from, but found myself intrigued by Sarah Klassen's recent book of poetry Monstrance.
Do you know what a monstrance is? Neither did I. According to the title poem (and Websters) it is: "A vessel in which the consecrated host is exposed to receive the veneration of the faithful." The key words and phrases here are vessel, consecrated host, exposed, veneration, and faithful. But sometimes a chalice or a crown or a cross is no more than the wood or metal out of which it is made, even for the faithful. The act of imagination that invests the ordinary with the divine sometimes takes place and sometimes it does not. This intermingling of the divine and the mundane is what gives Klassen's poems their power. The objects held, the places visited leave us standing simultaneously in the world of spirit and the world of the mundane. It makes for a profound sense of spiritual longing that is sustained throughout. Of course, this equally applies to the book itself. Monstrance is a monstrance.
So yes, blown away, I am. And looking for more. Next up? I've got my eye on a book of poetry by Victor Enns, also recently published. It's called Boy. So far, I've only dabbled in it, but I'm getting ready to take the plunge.
Poetry in the morning? It's better than a good cup of coffee.
|Categories: Reviews, Poetry, New Releases|