Years ago, a writing teacher gave me the following advice: write in a style that resembles amuse-bouche. Your writing, he said, should provide small and delightful experiences that whet the reader’s palate for the larger piece. Choose shocking and playful words. Charm readers with the puppetry of these words jumping and landing together. Create images that reflect both the depth of your heart and the expansiveness of your imagination.
As I read through the pages of Fairview Road, a new poetry chapbook by poet and teacher Kathleen Kraft, I was treated to this same amuse-bouche experience. Fairview Road is a generous sampling of courageous and evocative poems, the topics of which range from recollections of past relationships and memories of family experiences to sleeplessness and our intimate and everlasting connections with nature.
Many of her poems are short and packed with significance, flashbacks, and a particular emptiness that waits to be filled with the reader’s own experience. I often found myself lingering on certain phrases and images: the car with one headlight in Solstice; the creases that hug the eyes in Elegy to my Father; the stinging sunlight in City after the Destruction. If good poetry brings you into the present moment, the best poetry keeps you there; I read the poem Awake once, twice, then again and again. I’m still waiting for my mind and heart to resolve the last two lines.
I found myself smiling and recalling my days working in technology as I read Arietta, a poem that describes the sometimes-futile efforts we make to establish clear communication in a digitized and disconnected world. As someone who memorizes poems, one I might choose to take with me is Fairview Road, Monterey, Massachusetts. The images remind me of my own rural hometown spotted with sad, patient cows and waves of trees sinking into the horizon. Home never leaves us and we never leave home. We are always home. We forget that from time to time, and it’s important to be reminded as often as possible.
Bravo, Kathleen, on creating a wonderful chapbook. I sense that this is only the beginning of a much larger collection of meaningful, important work. I’m very much looking forward to the next course.