Review of What's Pink & Shiny/ What's Dark& Hard by Sarah B. Boyle
Cincinnati: Porkbelly Press, 2015. $9.50, paper.
Fingers close to the flame when I write this short vignette of my experience of Sarah B. Boyle's What's Pink & Shiny/ What's Dark & Hard (a line from Chapter 2, New Love); a train cutting a fruit into many halves, the slices are visceral, non-combative and eloquent. Written in the color of brilliant fat wine, these poems will absorb you; they'll circle one's square interpretation of love, loss, remorse and recurrent anxiety of belonging. That's why on "One Wednesday," even after hours of tissue bleeding, absence does not leave its seat. Boyle's craft is a sonogram of beauty and resplendence even in its fugal dissociation, in its obscurity. Her awareness of the distance between the author and reader is poignantly recorded in "The Museum, Then and Now."
I concur with poet, with her sense of orderliness that is reflected in her poems; not merely as a sequence in pages, but of ideas, of emotions gesticulated to flesh out a certain interpretation of the received world. Boyle's orderliness in craft is maintained as an artist's impression of colors and not merely an outlet of sounds and counter-sound.
Quoting from Nester, as appeared on the Poetry Foundation blog, "Poetry doesn't need honor, doesn't need ambition. Poetry doesn't need to be anywhere. It already is everywhere." But is it so? Yes, there's poetry everywhere, there's poetry in the technical manuals that make a sense of extravagance and jubilance to a business man and monotony of pain and strife that's again celebrated by the multitude. But a kind of poetry that David Yezzi revealed in the works of Greg Williamson's A Most Marvelous Piece of Luck is what I refer to when I discuss Boyle's poems; her works could be traps for lesser poets, but for someone to speak with affectation, she must be thoroughly bred in poetry, someone for whom language is more than an invention of the tongue but a rejoinder for human psychology.
Listen to this-
The uterus could be
a small pear
Having taught in the county department of corrections, Boyle's take on language, on its formal vocation, such imageries, metaphor, linguistic figurines, is formal yet inventive, risk-borne and with no personal prejudice. Although the works in this chap are a rerun of the author's own impression of the shifting landscape, they cannot be passed on as mere brooding of personal loses or over-amplification of the poet's own grievances and misgivings. I believe this chapbook is a beautiful visitation of the poet herself to the lives of many women who cannot adequately express or gold-frame their narratives of love, longing, pain and momentary catapults that draw the distance of the sea to the land.
All in all, What's Pink & Shiny is not the cunt but petals gleaming in the moon. What's Dark & Hard is not the dick but the clinical truth behind the gleam. And yes, I look forward to Boyle's first full-length manuscript, wishing her more dangerous leaps and moulds.
You can purchase What's Pink & Shiny/ What's Dark & Hard here.
Linda Ashok was one of the 25 feature poets selected by the Prakriti Foundation for The Hindu Lit for Life, 2014. Her poetry has appeared or forthcoming in various literary journals including the Mascara Literary Review, The McNeese Review and the Big Bridge Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry. She reviews poetry for The Rumpus and manages The Poetry Mail. A brief on Linda can be found on Lit Hub's #ActualAsianPoets. Linda tweets at @thebluelimit.