I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I get to look at a lot of poetry by beginning poets. Poetry is a difficult genre, so unfortunately a lot of it is really crappy. Georgia Lundeen’s book of poems Spare, however, is actually pretty good.
First of all, this edition is very pretty. The lay-out is minimalistic and comfortable to read. This is important, because visuality plays a much bigger role in poetry than in prose. Lundeen’s lines of poetry are also especially short, and that’s something I’m glad about because a lot of starting poets make the mistake of writing verses that are too long. They have so many emotions they try to express in a single line that they forget poetry is about choosing your words very carefully, and not just filling up the pages.
The book is divided in four chapters, ‘birth,’ ‘feed,’ ‘sleep’ and ‘wake,’ each composed of ten poems. The titles of these chapters already show us we will be dealing with basic human needs here.
Lundeen uses very vivid imagery, another sign of a promising poet. It makes sure a poem becomes more narrative, instead of just an expression of a feeling or a thought.
I found God,
sitting on a hill of feathery sand
in a foreign land.
Noticed the sky was following him;
granite-pink ground and his black hair.
These kind of mythical description are a big part of this book and it makes for an almost fairytale-like feeling.
Lundeen also has a good sense of rhythm. It seems like she really knows how to work the metre of her verses, using this classical method combined with a light tone. She also tends to use a lot of rhyme, although to me her free verse seems a lot stronger: a lot of rhyme can make a poem feel a little childish, unless you’re really going for an old-fashioned sonnet.
The book deals with some heavy themes. There’s talk of losing someone, being afraid, death and violence. However, it never becomes explicit, making the poems more transcendent and making it easier to identify. This doesn’t mean it is any less heavy: to me some poems really made me think back to the poems by Sylvia Plath and Leonard Cohen.
I wrote her down,
letter by letter,
until she faded completely away,
and I had not even a
body to show for it.
Spare really is a good start for a career as a poet, and although Lundeen should look out for being too forced with her rhyme, I’m already looking forward to her next work. You can order Spare here.