Jul 11, 2016 11:58 am | email@example.com (Michelle Miller)
My thoughts This is a moving book of poetry. I found myself immersed in many of the poems. Although I couldn't much relate to the wife/love side of things (I've sort of renounced romance/true love over the past several years...cynical, I know), I very much related to the poems about family and motherhood.
This poem about the importance of family is one of my favorites... GOLD RING The one with big and small diamonds on my left ring finger belonged to Grandma everybody comments on it quite stunning and kind of ugly, too the way a grandma ring can be a bit clunky and overwrought the gems have a story the grubby tiny ones from their original engagement on the California coast north of Malibu that place where two giant rocks come to a head and the surf tumbles around the gods inside at war with each other he said, I love you, Doll he said that and how could she not answer? all they had this thing they were making up other stones came from a wedding band one for each anniversary (their 25th, their 50th) the large "bling" jewels you could say and all of it deconstructed, reconstructed like marriage goes bound up in one crazy sculpture when she died he gave it to me we stood in the blue bedroom where she took the last terrible gasps sailed off on a sea of silent dreams he opened the drawer and said Seventy five years, seventy-five years I don't know what I'll do without her and pressed the ring into my palm all that preciousness my grandpa never talked much until she got sick and then I visited regularly though she hardly knew me anymore he was glad for the company and the words tumbled out now I come all the time we sit in his backyard talking about birds about his roses he tends with such care and the bright red feeder swinging over our heads glitters in the sun its perfect geometry sugar and water mixed for the hummingbirds the moment they sip so sweet they can't resist coming back for more Such a touching poem of familial legacy and love. Beautiful.
This next one speaks to me of motherhood, of wanting the best for your child, and your heart breaking over the rejection they might inevitably receive. We mothers with our unconditional love for them...sometimes we can't quite grasp the thought of everyone not loving them as we do. Side note: A holiday, Valentine's Day, which I hate, that can make someone painfully aware of their aloneness and of being rejected, especially for adolescents.
LUPERCALIA The ides of February are brutal, Love's sticky sentiments gumming up the air make it harder to breathe. Gilded truffles snug in their cellophane tombs dare you to pluck them from underneath and eat. Hearts dangle in pharmacy windows pretending to pump real red. Brutal for a boy who feels but won't say what it is to be sixteen and never one secret admirer, never a glitter doily or silver Hallmark waxed with lipstick's smoky kisses. What ghost can this mother conjure? What diaphanous caress? When in Rome and if long ago, I could run naked through alley ways, my breasts swinging like fevered trolls, like devil bells bared, tolling resident evil. I could don a goat-skin cap, carry my pot of flames to the desert, burn salted meal-cakes with vestal virgins and raise them to the stars, to dead crows and broken Caesars. But it wouldn't change the fact of his incomplete beauty, how girls turn away when he opens his mouth to speak a sound less than smart. Won't change the fact of his gawky bust and uncommon sense, an art far too wild and no longer cradled in the cave of a darkened living room, where once we rocked and he suckled, at times, stopped to let glide the nipple from his mouth and look up at me, just look at me... his future, his mother and unconditional lover, his only Valentine.
Here's a video of Lupercalia being read by the poet, Michelle Bitting...
Yup, this one had me in tears. Mothers will understand.
Moving, poignant, illuminating. Words I would use to describe this wonderful book of poetry.
About the book These meditations, cosmic-toned, yet utterly visceral, demonstrate Michelle Bitting's continuing growth and power as a poet of love, loss, the daily and deeply human experience, together with a maturing eye to understanding greater mythological tropes. Woven throughout her contemplation of the terrible beauty and struggle of family dynamics, corporeal desire, the injustices and revelations of life in the 21st century, thrums a vital connectivity to the mystic and mythological strains of the past, newfangled to the present in a way that ultimately sheds light on what it is to be alive and conscious of who we're called to be.
To read Michelle's poetry is to take a wild, passionate ride through the rubble of the quotidian, to be shocked by sensual discovery and awakened to a relentless curiosity for both the surreal and historical. These poems travel–an expansion in service of communion with the world, confrontation and acceptance of self.
Here's what others are saying: In a multi-directional "one shape" of voices, time, people, spaces Bitting takes us in and out of her all seeing third eye poetics. We go into an orb of family, love, then we swoop out into the delight of humanity. And, in a sense, these refractions are the "the self's / shady daguerreotype coming to surface / through exposure to light." In day-to-day terms we find enlightenment and paradox—" of death and peppermint," of "birth and strange beauty," of "Elysium nothingness" and "mythmaking machinery." I find Michelle's cosmic mechanics fused with historical platforms akimbo and the "sheen" of personal meditations, a rare accomplishment. A unique treasure of visions and voice. –Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States
There's delirious beauty tumbling down every page of The Couple Who Fell To Earth. Michelle Bitting's poems deal with the domestic and the feral; I'm caught up in "Eden-scorched mouths," and "a sea of furrowed manes and exoskeletons," and I never want to leave. She confronts personal history, the familiar body, the spiritual world, and the human condition in rich, wildly original language. –Bianca Stone, Author ofSomeone Else's Wedding Vows
Michelle Bitting is a poet of the natural world but in a completely Transcendental sense. Like Emerson, her poems seem to claim that, even in the face of all kinds of traumatic loss, "beauty breaks in everywhere." The Couple Who Fell to Earth holds things of the world up to the eye in an effort to glimpse heaven, or as Bitting herself says, "Accept me. I love the dawn. / The sun is a sea / I throw myself into…" This book is all heart. –Jericho Brown, Author of The New Testament
About the poet Michelle Bitting's first collection, Good Friday Kiss (C & R, 2008) won the DeNovo First Book Award. Her second collection, Notes To The Beloved (SPC, 2011) won the Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award and received a starred review from Kirkus. Poems have been published in the American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Narrative, The L.A. Weekly, diode, Linebreak, and The Paris-American, and have been nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University and is currently a Ph.D candidate in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She grew up in Los Angeles near the ocean.
Leave a comment below for a chance to win a paperback copy of The Couple Who Fell To Earth. Please be sure to include your email address so I can contact the winner. Open to U.S. entrants only. Last day to enter, July 25th at 11:59pm CDT. Good luck!