For the next few weeks, we’re taking a look at recent (and some republished) works by poets perhaps not as well known as some but with unique and interesting voices and deserving of a wider audience. Today we’re considering Jessica Goodfellow and Michalle Gould.
Goodfellow’s The Insomniac’s Weather Report was first published in 2011 but reissued in 2014 by Isobar Press (in Japan). It’s her middle volume of poetry; A Pilgrim’s Guide to Chaos in the Heartland was published in 2006 and Mendeleev’s Mandela in 2015.
Her poems in Weather Report center on the natural elements like water, in all of its various forms and uses; and a series of 30 poems built around the idea of a fugue and its various definitions. In between are nine “flotsam and jetsam” poems; however, even calling the section that relates the poems to the water theme.
Here is one of the water or weather-themed poems:
The insomniac flings pebbles at the clouds.
He says they won’t stop following him.
(If you keep secrets, you will drown.)
He howls obscenities into the wind.
He claims it goes right on talking about him.
(If you fail to keep secrets, you will burn.)
No one can convince him otherwise.
No one is awake.
(The patron saint of running water
Finally the rain runs itself dry
over the closed eyes of the insomniac
is also the patron saint of silence.)
The poems of The Insomniac’s Weather Report are filled with vivid and rich language; Goodfellow makes full use of the sounds of words to blend into the theme; one, entitled “Chance of Precipitation, ” has words and structure that sound like a steady rain on a metal roof. It’s a fascinating collection.
Michalle Gould is a writer and poet who worked on the poems in Resurrection Party (2014) for some 15 years before publication. She currently works as a librarian in Los Angeles and is working on a novel set in England in the 1930s.
As its title (and cover) might apply, the poems of Resurrection Party are about death, and specifically, the artistic imagination engaging the meaning of death. The poems have allusions to Shakespeare, Hardy, the Bible, Greek mythology, Dutch painting, John Donne, the science writer Lewis Thomas, Matisse and Michelangelo.
To be human is to be like a cloud chalked into the sky
that some eraser could sweep off the blue board at any
To be immortal is to be solid as a pear in an old Dutch still life
that would choke you if you tried to swallow it, no matter
how small your bite.
But what does it mean to be a cloud shaped like that pear?
There are two kinds of sacredness often ascribed to a saint’s
either its lack of decay or its absence altogether from the grave
As you never see the skeleton, the clouds has no bones to rustle
but simply shifts: becoming a turtle or a tablet of bread, whose
Not to feed but to instruct, naked an particular in shape as we
must learn to be
Indeed, what does it mean to be shaped like a pear, and then change into a turtle or loaf of bread? Our short time on the planet is like that metamorphosis of the clouds.
Resurrection Party’s poems have an almost mediaeval sense to them – literary, more formal, reading like an after-dinner entertainment read at local baron’s court. They are also beautiful to read aloud.
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