It is the final day of poetry month and I just now have a book to recommend. I started five or six other poetry volumes in the past two months and never got past page 20. I was not the right reader and they were not the right books. Finally, I found Domestic Violence: Poems by Eavan Boland, which I absorbed in two days.
Boland is direct and visual. Reading her poems calls forth many sharp images, as in her poem "How It Was Once in Our Country":
"In those years I owned a blue plate,
blue from the very edge to the center,
ocean-blue, the sort of under-wave blue
a mermaid could easily dive down into and enter."
In "Irish Interior" she describes an old drawing in which a woman spins and a man stands by his loom. They are permanently separated, unable to touch each other. Many of her poems express sadness for what has been or never been.
"And Soul" may be my favorite poem in the collection. Boland links the moisture of atmosphere and ocean to the liquid content of the human body. I read it during a thunderstorm, hearing the rain on my roof and windows. I think I began to perspire. Water is also the key element in"On This Earth" and "In Season."
Boland is Irish and writes much about her island and its history. She decries violence against women and the enslaving of workers to drive the Industrial Revolution. She remembers the Irish poets and describes the Book of Kells. Her book will appeal to readers sympathetic to Irish causes. Many public libraries should add this book.
Boland, Eavan. Domestic Violence: Poems. New York: Norton, 2007. ISBN 0393062414