JACQUELINE KARP: SUDDEN MARASCHINOS
24 Aireville Road
ISBN 1 904338 13 5
JACQUELINE KARP: TEARS OF HONEY AND GOLD
Five Leaves Publications
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ISBN 0 907123 55 4
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This page last updated: 11th December 2007.
|JACQUELINE KARP: SUDDEN MARASCHINOS|
There are travel writers and travel poets; and I know which I prefer. Ms Karp is a travel poet; she is also a traveller and a linguist. There are certain poets who purport to be the former without being either of the latter. She is able to bring a reporter's veracity to her subjects, made special by her particular vision and style which is both perceptive and musical as in CHRISTMAS DAY:
in Prague brings snow to order lacing red roofs and apricot facades with its own timebound Baroque. Mix and match grannies plod the Voltava young men strain from muzzled dogs that sniff despairingly at evening viewsMs Karp's poetry can be more fully felt by the reader who is a traveller — armchair or otherwise — because, most probably, she has worked in the countries in which she sets her poems. In each there is real engagement — no mere tourist/voyeur here — she has had to negotiate the differences and eccentricities of her host countries. This from ADJUSTING:
Ours the first pale imprints of the day. Boots, pressed firm in the precinct's virgin snow, squeak and crunch their rubber against ice. The cathedral's brick and copper verdigris towering above us in the snow-filled sky the only colour scheme available. We must adjust to this demi-jour, eyes blinking hard against blinding grey and sleet, the spectrum banished to another time.In UNDER SVÉA BANÉR she juxtaposes Swedish antique choral music and the world around her:
When I slip the CD in the sounds come slowly. At first a trembling dawn-lemon hum, then deep throbbings, a cello's amber vibrato, voices as firm and sudden as marching boots. In the near dusk Uppsala students make their way through narrow streets past cream-chested houses, beside my café table, their white and red banners curling wildly to gritty wind and sleetThere is pinpoint economy in this writing that manages, also, to maintain a natural elegance of language as in KOLODNO DIARY:
I lose my landmarks here no blue no turquoise green instead a sort of peace the dark forest circling the sky with its stillnessMs Karp brings her eye and I to this first collection, taking us from Sweden to the Baltics in the unique vehicle of her sentient and often scintillating poetry.
|reviewer: Michael Bangerter.|
|JACQUELINE KARP: TEARS OF HONEY AND GOLD|
Jacqueline Karp is a travel poet. Her first collection brought together poems about Northern and Eastern European countries. Now she turns her attention to Spain.
The poems are beautifully crafted, with just the right amount of descriptive detail. They never slip into touristic cliché or sentimentality. She tries to get below the surface of what she sees, to dig out the everyday lives and dramas of the people of Spain. So different from all the trash we are fed about Spain on television. Her subjects range from an art exhibition in Bilbao to a greengrocer's at Cabezón de la Sal.
Nearly all her vignettes and protraits contain the unexpected. In the
poem TALES FROM THE GUGGEHEIM, after describing Clemente's illustrations
to Ginsberg's poems
But how does the guard in stern red jacket and tight grey skirt spend her long day surrounded by this plethora of wine red penises and row upon row of see-through yet dreamily vague vaginas as colourful as a Caribean market?Lack of sexual fulfillment is a recurring theme. From PINE NUTS AND ANGEL'S HAIR:
These are the muscle men, frolicking naked in the afternoon sun, mocking young novices who scrub and clean the cloister at day's end, their young frames throbbing with passion never quenched.The contrast between the ideals of the Catholic church and the realities of men and women and Spain come across forcefully. From WAITING:
A church thrusts its warning tower up to God and young almonds clutch their slim velvet, awaiting a rebirth. But Easter has grown tired this year. On the old Gerona highway wan-faced girls in laddered tights tout for clients searching for a quick release in the littered lay-by among the crouching trees.Karp's sympathies lie with the dispossessed:
the bent women... their nylon bags cutting through old chapped fleshfrom BLOOMING, the immigrant night porter in a hotel in Barecelona, who has
no responsibilities no familyfrom BARCELONA, the blind man whose white stick
counts one by one the battered metal seats...from CONCIERTO DE ARANJUEZ.
Yet the overall tone is one of celebration of the sensuality and vibrancy of life in Spain. For example, in BLOOMING
the greengrocer girl is blooming: melon-breasts, asparagus-fingers, apricot cheeksThere are delightful moments, such as when she sees in ALBARRACÍN:
...the men, herding their flocks up to graze on the rocky pastures above the town, wrap rough djellabas round them and call out 'Balak! Balak!' as they egg their sheep through the narrow streets.Karp explores the history of Spain, its impact on individual lives, then brings us bang up-to-date. From IN THE BAR:
Poised, totally indifferent to the overhead roar of fighter planes. He's seen it all before: Romans, Visigoths, Arab, Berber, Aragonese. Republican. Nationalist. And now Aznar, mouthing his proud policy in Iraq.I have to confess that I would sometimes have liked to have seen more the emotional impact of Spain on Karp personally. At times, she is almost too much in control of her material, too much like a brilliant photographer passing from one scene to the next. I wonder how she, Jacqueline Karp, has been changed by the experience.
One other small criticism: at times the Spanish words are translated in a footnote, at others they are not. Consistency would be better here.
However, overall, it is difficult to recommend TEARS OF HONEY AND GOLD too highly. If you have already been to Spain, this will make you see the country with different eyes. If you haven't, this book will take you there.
|reviewer: Ian Seed.|