Sunday, May 08, 2011

Dear Jean Seberg

Alexandra's new collection of poetry, Dear Jean Seberg, has now made its way into the world. Winner of the 2010 Burnside Review Chapbook Contest, as selected by Matthew Dickman, the book features a wonderful cover by the artist Robert Edwin. Inside and out, it's a beautiful work of art - and a steal at $6.

Here's what Alexandra has to say about the book on her blog:

This collection of poems really came out of sitting on the couch--I mean sitting on the couch watching films: black and white films, Technicolor at its most Technicolor, Steve McQueen car chases, French films (thanks to my librarian husband's knack for discovering obscure, and then not-so-obscure, directors and actors and then being very good at using the local library system to get access to sometimes hard-to-find DVD or video copies of these films). We found ourselves coming up with our own homespun versions of film cycles: William Holden Month, or Yves Montand Week, or, a Jean-Luc-Godard film cycle. Thus, I re-watched "Breathless" and discovered a new interest in the cherub-faced, blond American from Iowa, Jean Seberg, who found herself (via a rather circuitous route) in a Jean Luc Godard film in the 1960's.

Hence, the title poem of this collection. This chapbook is really a journey onto a fuller, longer collection, but I believe it stands on its own as a verbal stamp of some of the images, films, words and sounds that have influenced me over the last few years since moving out to the eastern end of Long Island. I don't consider Dear Jean Seberg to be about film; I consider it a collection of poems infused with the atmosphere of some films I watched and how images and moments in those films flickered in and out of my life long after watching them. . . .

Jean Seberg led an enigmatic, hard-to-categorize life, and my only hope is that these
poems begin to capture some of the wistful strangeness that was the backdrop to her life and the surreal collisions that can occur, at times, in anyone's life.

Here's a sample poem from the collection that was published last year on Verse Daily:

Dear B—

Dear Babaushka, dear
ba-ba-ba-boom, dear oh-my-God
don’t broil me alive. The world
is a percussive instrument
we strum until we die—hum, hum
go the car wheels over the drive;
pluck, pluck the rain sings
for the one-millionth,
bloody time. The feet
earn their calloused soles
and are the saintliest
body part of all—stomp,
stomping along. Dear
Bang on a Can, I like the way
you slap the sunken-eye
of the hollow drum. I like your
New York band’s underwater,
booming sound. I like the sea’s
surface as well—how it’s
hard or soft depending
on the distance from which
you choose to approach. Just try
jumping from the Brooklyn Bridge
towards that ruffling,
dark scarf of water
purring beneath. A kiss can be
the softest slap of all, but
I admire the snow, its soft-shoe
shuffle, its Fred-Astaire
panache, as it debonairly dresses
the trees in white, while slickening
the pavement towards
tuxedo black. Blah, blah, blah,
people do go on about whatever
it is they think they know. Bruno
was my mother’s maiden name—
a brood of Italians from Sicily
settling in a small, sea-side,
Rhode Island town,
near the prosperous,
budding, rubber factory.
That factory’s been converted
into high-brow, assisted living now—
with pale sconces in the hall
and a recreation
room—a place we almost,
but never did,
send my grandmother to.
Beached-whale, barracuda
sunrise: the world vacillates
between environmental
documentary and James Bond
thriller, but the clouds burst
and explode between genres;
some evenings, splitting the sky
into lavender, melon
and a wintry vanilla.

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