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It's really incredible how quickly the poems in Sandra Marchetti's Confluence enter and stay with you. When I read "Autumn Damask" for the first time, the lines "Roam the ground where you are / mapped, flat and free, beneath / this sky, this new sea" were with me a lot of a walk I took after. The language and lines themselves are just beautiful.
These poems are rooted in nature and place. It's interesting when nature is established as a main motif so early in the book; poems that have no overt "nature" imagery take on a profoundly natural and earthy feel.
I appreciate seeing the non-natural blended and molded into feeling. The overt sonic and formal attention these poems have lend to that feeling of everything bending towards the natural. Early in the book you hear the assonance and slant and end rhymes and associate them with the nature imagery; those same tropes leave some of the same after tastes later in different poems. Some poets might associate rhyming as being kind of kitsch, but other than one or two places here and there, these poems rhyme naturally.
Normally I tend to associate lines heavy with figurative language with less overtly formal poetry, but, as a teacher I had at Iowa used to say, every poem that gets remembered is usually more for its sound and rhythm more than any heavily emotive line or avant-garde poetic "soul." Rhythm and sound are an important and inseparable and natural part of poetry; the sound of poetry is as much a part of poetry's soul as any raw and blunt emotion.
I thought of Sharon Olds poem “Sex Without Love” while I was reading some of these. After reading The Dead and the Living, a collection I just loved, the line I kept repeating to myself over and over: "How do they come to the / come to the come to the," Marchetti really shows how important sound is to crafting great lines.
Another thing I really appreciated about these poems was something I noticed in a collection I read a few weeks ago by Cyrus Cassells, which is a heavy presence of notes both as epigraphs and end-notes. This helps so, so much. The note on "Waters of Separation" make that particular poem come alive - I loved it the first time I read it but after reading the note it really takes on a new character - and I wouldn't have recognized the reference to The Last Romances without that final note, and with that, it puts the last several poems in perspective. To quote from my Shakespeare course in Iowa, "The possibility of second chances."
Frank Terry was born in Galesburg, IL in 1988. He graduated from The University of Iowa in 2013 with a bachelors degree in English literature. Frank’s poems have recently appeared in The Rio Grande Review and Rhino Poetry. Frank loves food and music and sports and many other things, too.