Sonoma by Lehua M. Taitano (Released by Dropleaf Press, 2017)
Review by Greg Bem (@gregbem)
Casual periphery: Stubborn Persistent Illusions by Do Make Say Think
So I found a boat. And a lake. And I thought of the way the lake had come to be. And the way of history that floods and flushes out those who would call the land at the bottom of the lake home. And the stories and languages of those displaced people--the Pomo, the Miwok--whose sacred sites were drowned to make the place where boats like mine could float above on any given Wednesday in spring. Which made me think of my own displacement and of being in maybe love, too [. . .]
I am practicing my review of a pool of water. I am practicing the breathing toward and from the glassy place. Imagining the artist as the center of the elliptical ripple. Atop a watercraft or a leering bank. Glancing across or beyond, the sheen of light radial, but also fractal. An ordinary reverb of light.
i will let you in on joist and
(when is there not
In Sonoma by Lehua M. Taitano, I imagine water everywhere. In all of the spaces, covering all of the objects, all of the environments. This is not true: water cannot be everywhere. But it can, like voice, be anywhere. And in Sonoma there is a range of presence: actualized and potential. To make, to make do, to make through a sacred realm of possibility. Where life has lived, and will continue to live.
In Sonoma, Taitano resonates through observation, through quest, through pressure. Fragility of time and the fleeting realm of the natural image in tandem with the abundance of the landscape. Pause. New tab. I begin typing “Lake Sonoma” but then stop. No. I have not been there, and it is not about me, per se. Sonoma as rigor meets gentleness. Sonoma as inclusive. More: invited. To enter, to step forward.
To slide in a wall as if the banks were grooved and push back a flowing river.
A readiness, an inspiring acceptance of a wondrous and unknown body of water, thanks to Taitano’s voice, which scatters and collects from page to page, utterances utter and known meets unknown in aquatic bob and glide.
To the Lake Sonoma beyond from that voice found here, found now, presently found, possibly found. Imagery, the whirl and whir of the author. A lens of inquiry through a context divinatory, poetic. The experience is one that is pursed, and also bold: to read Sonoma is to listen through layers of story. Actualized and potential.
water shadow. lichen. / the nose of a swimming creature, / slick.
So I am practicing thinking of a pool of water. I am standing beyond the water, looking across it, wondering if there is sunlight, or darkness. Wondering how human this body of water is. Wondering how disturbed or how wild, how at rest, how succumbed to its own privacy. These exercises as a result of a book that is a result of experience. Of infinitudes of experience. Transcendental. Overcome with transition. The roar of the risen, or the rising. There is breath in this lake. A breath in the lake right now, right here.
Outside the windows of the apartment I call home, the late spring light shines on small green trees I can’t define, know not the names of, and the light still shines and through the sense of the unknown the light feels dignified, purposeful. Sonoma as a book of dignity and definition. As the result of craft. As a result of the poet as present, to siphon, funnel, perceive, relay. Taitano as the investigator, but there needs to be another word: a form of investigation that exhibits respect, is careful, is intensely aware and is resolved to an acceptance of the emerging beauty.
but i can give you
kettle. wool hood,
the right weight.
i can say gristle and
The words in Sonoma feel energetic. They feel etched: temporal but placed with a fixed and impressive effort. Or they feel engraved: to be as permanent as witness, actualized or potential. A poetry that sits like a body of water on a body of land. A poetry that grips the land through immense weight, and there are countless angles, and there is constant possibility.
The mind returns to the visage of the pool. In a blended and arresting moment of imagery, I imagine Lake Sonoma at night and at day, moon and sun merged into one orb, our planet spinning forward and backward at once, all of the occupying figures, the life, the presence, together in a single frame of time. There is a harmony to acknowledge and there is opportunity to be aware. All of this brought into the reader from Taitano’s Sonoma, of which we owe many thanks.
All reviews by Greg Bem unless marked otherwise.
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