Poetry is a unique expression of art, and the perfect medium for bereavement therapy, in the respect that the author can pour random words of helplessness and despair onto the page without order, as chaotic in prose as it is in their mind. “My Groans Pour Out Like Water” is actually a hugely appropriate title for this book, the “groans” in reference being Frances’s groans of pain and misery.
Although there is something more than a little voyeuristic about reading this extremely personal collection, she is a wonderful poet and this is excellent, high quality work, right from the very first line, so to not share it would be a shame. Her heart is well and truly on her sleeve throughout this devastatingly sad and poignant book, made all the more heartbreaking by its tribute to her recently late husband before you start reading it. Frances’s feelings of grief are still raw and, with every next poem, you can witness her scrubbing them even more so. Although not all directly address her tragedy, its despair is still there throughout, if in mood only – “Millennial Blues”, for example, questioning the prospects of the young, is suitably metaphorical for the collection in general, whilst “Another Day” and “I Lie Here” capture the hopelessness Frances feels perfectly. You do find yourself hoping, at times, that there is a glimmer of light – a hint of hope – before this journey has reached its end. But, upon reading “Junkie Blues”, just after midway, you learn that the author’s cynical resentment and self-deprecation is caused by something other than just her bereavement, and it brings new depth to her work – I won’t go into details here, but needless to say, the clue is in the title.
This book offers a real taste of life in the US’s rural southwest, with its arid landscape and hopeless, boozy culture. It offers some great, vivid description of the Texan wilderness, along with a side of whiskey and a great, big chunk of melancholy blues. The rustic, mountainous settings and locations are wonderfully created. I did feel, on occasion, that some of the lines were perhaps a touch long and confusing, its punctuation not perfect, though this offbeat imperfection probably suits Frances just fine - its prose is reflective of the rural, southern lilt in which it is told. Besides, she more than makes up for it, with beautiful turns of phrase, such as: “pathways auction themselves, but no one finds me” – a great analogy for being lost, spiritually and emotionally.
A brilliant piece of work, by an extremely talented author, and one of the most engrossing collections of poetry I have read in a long time. I would love to highly recommend this book, but it feels a little like feeding off of Frances’s sadness. Still, it is undeniably good poetry, and I am pleased that she chose to share it, even if it is heartbreaking to read.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: frances-bloom poetry collection bereavement loss tragedy