Return from the Abyss

Summer slips away, leaving room for Fall. The first order of the day is to talk for a moment about a friend’s book of poems, Selene by Michael Odom. 


Don’t turn your back on her

I see this book as a reflection of an obsession. A woman. A sorceress. A corpse. An eternal ambivalence, love and hate. The cover uncovers, revealing the darkness within. It is not an easy read. But then, poetry can be unsettling. A way of seeing that slices through the dailiness to a core that may be exquisitely ugly. But it is real, and we cannot turn our guilty gaze away from the disaster. Just the opposite. We hope to understand more about our own lives the longer we stare at the ruins of others’.

The opening poem lets the reader know that men will not get off easily in this book:

“The simple strength of men who never know,

Their muscle-coats, their steel, their robotic wars,

Their Scantron lives lesson-planned in their brains,

The blows they give and take to the head, sports,

Their races to finish lines, walks to start,

Ready-go guns, their disciplined controlled

Resilience, their climbing grasps, like primates,

For leafier nests, prettier mates, shinier cars,

And Power, the lying god, their angry work

Ethics with long old ages dreaming TV

And beaches and golf, their nearby balls-of-dust

Planets they reach for and prayers to a ghost,

Big man boasts…I know a boy much smaller

Who carries in his pocket a collapsed sun.”

For what it’s worth, I can’t help but think that the boy is the poet’s sun. Pun intended.
The reading pendulum will swing completely in the other direction tomorrow with a new title for Perfect Picture Book Friday. And then a rec for a new YA or two next week. Some Middle Grade novels…Stay tuned! Looking forward to catching up with everyone in the blogosphere.

8 thoughts on “Return from the Abyss

  1. Lady Fancifull says:

    It’s lovely to find a post from you in my reader, Jilanne – I have missed them!

    Hmm. I wonder how that poem feels, for the mothers of sons. And for the young sons themselves. I feel less comfortable these days excoriating ‘men’. There are certainly individual men (and women) for whom excoriation is the only appropriate response. BUT I feel leery when whole swathes of the human race are singled out for universal blame.

    Whatever is conferred by biology on men, and on women, will have certain advantages for us, as a species, and also bring certain challenges. And though the weight of historical power has in the main, been held by males, and though power can exacerbate, and make clear, our fault lines, power, and the usage of it, also brings blessings to the community as well as its shadows. And women too can abuse power, and be hungry for it

    You see how I have missed you, bringing posts that made me chew on my reactions, thinkings, feelings

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      And I have missed you! What you say is quite true. I try not to excoriate entire swathes of a single gender in life and in my work. But these poems take a pretty harsh look at both genders. And it just so happens that the first poem focuses on men (or a man).

      As the mother of a son, I’m trying to give him every opportunity to grow in ways that are sensitive to others and their feelings. Right now, he’s a bit of a bull in a china shop, but that’s to be expected at age 12. When he’s 30, it would be nice for him to be able to dance around the china without destroying entire place settings. 😀

  2. FictionFan says:

    I agree with LF – lovely to see you!

    I agree with LF – I get concerned about the about of man-bashing women seem to indulge in.

    I agree with LF – women can be horrible too.

    However, there’s still The Goldfinch…

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      No, it is definitely NOT a children’s book. My focus for the past couple of years is writing and promoting children’s books, but I still write for adults and have many writer friends who write solely for adults. Hope Mitchell likes it!

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