Beth Ann Fennelly
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Buy *Unmentionables: Poems* by Beth Ann Fennelly online

Unmentionables: Poems
Beth Ann Fennelly
W.W. Norton
96 pages
April 2008
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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In four sections, the poet unleashes the visions of an imaginative journey, blazing through the pages of this collection: “The Kudzu Chronicles,” “Berthe Morisot: Retrospective,” and a series of dream songs. Her world expanded by an open heart and open mind, this poet never, never disappoints, always leaves me filled with the pure joy of language that expands the boundaries of my experience.

In the first group of narratives she touches on the familiar, the solid emotional connections that allow her imagination to spar, the earthiness of love, family, home, a safe place to return again and again:

“When in our most romantic, most expensive meal,
you laid your sunburned hand upon your heart,
it was just to check your phone was on.”
- (Souvenir)
In “Berthe Morisot: Retrospective,” the poet inhabits another time and place, the blooming talent of one familiar with the great Impressionists, her own heart filled with color-saturated images:
“I paint outdoors all day. When I return,
she gives me cut lemons
to rub the freckles from my hands,

My fingers twitch in sleep, she says - even in my dreams I paint.”
- (Colorplate 7)
Traveling once more to familiar territory, Fennelly reminds of how life experience has broadened her fertile mind, forged connections between self and others that feed the soul:
“before I was a mommy
say four or five years or
decades ago I could think in complete sentences remember all…

who was she
that fresh-squeezed girl
merely temporarily out of her mind

if it’s true as they say
that I am now
the same as she”
- (The Mommy at the Zoo)
The familiarity of sudden claims and latent regrets begins with “The Kudzu Chronicles”:
“Kudzu sallies into the gully
like a man pulling up a chair
where a woman was happily dining alone.
Kudzu sees a field of cotton,
wants to be its better half…

Why fret
if all it wants
is to lay one heart -
shaped palm
on your sleeping back?”
Relentless as time, the kudzu creeps along regardless of our best intentions, a bit malign, a bit familiar:
“One forget the kudzu’s
Avalanche, and that’s
When it makes its snatch -

If you need to dump a body,
do it here.”
Impossible to anticipate this gifted poet. Impossible to consider the journey ahead.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Luan Gaines, 2008

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