Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Poetry Book Giveaway 2010: A Poem from Natasha Tretheway

Here's a poem from Bellocqs Ophelia to interest you in Natasha Tretheway's work and the National Poetry Month Poetry Book Giveaway. If you don't have a blog, please know that you can still enter! Just leave a comment that has your email address so there is a way to get in touch with you. You may need a gmail account to sign up on blogger. I will do some sleuthing and find out for you. Meanwhile, here is a poem from my favorite of Tretheway's three strong collections. Natasha Tretheway won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for her collection, Native Guard. She was 41 years old at the time.

(Self) Portrait

------- March 1912

On the crowded street I want to stop
time, hold it captive in my dark chamber ---
a train's sluggish pull out of the station,
passengers waving through open windows,
the dull faces of those left on the platform.
Once, I boarded a train; leaving my home,
I watched the red sky, the low sun glowing --
an ember I could blow into flame -- night
falling and my past darkening behind me.
Now I wait for a departure, the whistle's
shrill calling. The first time I tried this shot
I thought of my mother shrinking against
the horizon -- so distracted, I looked into
a capped lens, saw only my own clear eye.

This is actually the final section of a longer poem, "Storyville Diary," with each section a 14 line epistolary poem -- some implied letters to a friend back home, some implied letters to the self. I love how "Ophelia's" story is told throughout the book and that she moves from being object to subject. In other words, she learns photography while Bellocq is photographing her and the other prostitutes of the house, but she then moves to the space behind the camera. The book begins with two epigraphs; this one from Susan Sontag. I thought about using it for my book as well .

"Nevertheless, the camera's rendering of reality must always hide more than it discloses."

I will leave you to ponder on that tonight.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Susan,
    I don't think I left my email in yesterday's comment, so here:

    Thanks for the poems!