Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Beyond All Other

Shearsman press this autumn will publish a major collection by Elaine Randell, so it led me to go back and reread a collection I've had for several years, her wonderful Pig Press collection, Beyond All Other. Personally, I think she has all the virtues of the Objectivist movement of George Oppen et al, without the sometimes etiolated and over-careful faults. There's a scrupulousness and a cleanness to her poems that is married to a deep meditation on the emotions: this is a poet who thinks through her emotions and emotes through her thinking.

But instead of trying to convince you in my words, I'll let her speak for herself:

Beyond all other
that we will be unloved
lost faded in our lives without
the golden mark of youth on our cuff,
there is the knowing that always
we are part.

Beyond all other
love is
being wide open to another, total
vulnerability. An exchange of selves.

Beyond all other
there is the idea of eternity
we listen for its ghosts
finding habit, pattern.

Beyond all other
there is the extension of self
moving out against the inertia
that laziness we call work.
Moving out towards desire
value creates love.
Love then is a form of work
of courage.

"What massive stones. What magnificent buildings."

I love the way this builds to its unexpected last line; it's as perfectly poised as a Creeley poem. I think she's one of our best poets, but as is the way with things, she's hardly known. She belongs to the "non-mainstream" camp (but is that a "non-mainstream poem" or simply a great one? She doesn't publish often and doesn't do the circuit. She makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so very much for your kind words on my poetry. I was sitting in my room trying to write a report but looked up poetry on the internet and found your words, you've made my year. Thank you
Elaine randell
you can reach me on
once again thank you.