On the first few tries, I had a hard time getting into this book. Let's face it, my background in reading, writing, and critiquing poetry was strongly shaped by Academic influences. I soon discovered that if I wanted to know what these poems were about and why, I was going to have to drop that prejudice and approach these radically experimental poems with a new eye.
Pope appears to regard her literary work as only one aspect of her explorations into what she calls "mythopoesis." Strongly feminist in her approach to both mythology and society, this poet steps into the danger zones of sexuality, psychology, and taboo secure in her own power and her willingness to fall, to flounder, and to fail in her search for a personal truth that will conform to the eternal truths inherent in every mythology. Not content to rest in the traditional study of Greek and Roman mythology, she finds a compelling mythos in the structure of trees, in the way clouds move in the sky, even in the Wonderland of Alice, the basis for a whole series of poems, such as "down a rabbit hole" where the reader is asked:
. . . . in the nonsense can you
accept not knowing why? Did you ever
drive yourself down so hard that you
got to the bottom of something?
Although there is rarely any traditional structure, the poems are held together by leaps of the imagination and playful rhyming, as in:
How many more are there like me
And, ever more importantly
What becomes of the fallen
In bodies that do not fall
Upon what foundation are
They buoyed and girled
I have been hurled
Like a severed head falling
Into a consciousness again
With a liberated fate from
Fashionable pathologies of time
These are poems not about women, but about Woman, in all her grit and glory. One of the delights of this collection is discovering the kind of wry and only shallowly buried wit that can begin a book with "Ode to Artemis," who
Wooed in us a veneration of light
Before -- where in her great self-expression
Forming out of itself kindness and creation
She became a Maiden-sort-of-Mother -- so
. . . while still hidden
Such that wherever in us
Her spiritflesh she bred
There nascent, sprang
The breadrites of all generations
Who though they may not remember
Build yet her flesh into their own
and end with "Pater Nostre." Reading the first strophe:
In the name of the father
We stayed little and life stayed little
and the truth stayed hidden and men
can one fail to remember where it all began?
With a rich and varied background in teaching, creative writing, and psychology, Pope earned her MA in Mythological Studies, with a special emphasis in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. She lives with her family in Arizona, where she works and publishes as a writer and poet on-line at MYTHoPOETRY.
© Reviewed by Sandy McKinney This review first published with Alsop Review
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