- Paperback: 28 pages
- Publisher: Phoenicia Publishing (September 11, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0978174968
- ISBN-13: 978-0978174965
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,450,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Walk Through the Memory Palace Paperback – September 11, 2009
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Memory is tricky, elusive, and often not an accurate representation of the actual object, event, or emotion. Johnson Parker's word choices are quiet, often sensual, lacking the in-your-face attitude of much modern poetry. Thus, the reader enters the poem by recalling and developing our own memories. Many of these poems utilize multiply-indented lines, which leave enough white space for the line to breathe, to expand.
My favorite poem in this collection is "78 RPM." Composed of 3 short line stanzas, the poem is spot-on in the way it captures a young couple discovering love and lust while listening to a record. As somebody who grew up with vinyl, I could immediately identify with the images of the needle tracing the groove in the record. The opening lines,
Dusk and three minutes/Of fading light, set the scene. Just as things heat up, the boy's aunt brings them glasses of iced tea, and the young girl realizes the inherent danger of listening to music alone with a boy:
You'll have to keep your
Knees pressed tight together.
As the light dims.
As the record changes.
The first section of the poem "Tattoos," Ink, is filled with rich, warm colors, and the second section, Canvas, transitions to a couple in a motel room, ostensibly talking about his tattoos. Johnson Parker gives us a vivid image of a metaphorical tattoo:
Our window, through blinds
that won't quite shut(one slat slants
its ladder of light
all the way down your back.
Toward the end of the closing poem, "Breasts," Johnson Parker describes a phone call from her sister, informing her that the sister has stage IV breast cancer. Again, the word choices and images are ideal, the scene immediate and real.
Our phones, there's the roar
Like the ocean's, as
If we were holding shells up
To our ears, a song
Not unlike the blood's.
Although this book only contains 10 poems, they are poems to be savored, thought over, and re-read. I look forward to reading more of Johnson Parker's work.
These poems, varying in subject from love to koi to bamboo to breast cancer, are very accessible and yet surprisingly complex, both in the range of emotions expressed and in their artful construction.
Two of the selections quite literally took my breath away: "Tatoos" with its little surprise at the end, and "Breasts". I also especially enjoyed "78 RPM" and "Some Yellow Tulips". For those who are fans of Joyce's "Ulysses", there is a special entry called "Archaic Fragments" which plays cleverly on the ending of that book.
Relly, I can't praise this little book highly enough. For those who find poetry difficult, this book will inspire you not only to read and re-read these poems, but to explore other poets as well.