This is George Elliott Clarke's review of my book of poetry, Metamorphosis
THE NOVA SCOTIAN BOOKS SUNDAY SEPT. 24, 2006
GEORGE ELLIOTT CLARKE’S REVIEW OF MY BOOK OF POETRY, METAMORPHOSIS
Heddy M Johannesen’s first poetry text is Metamorphosis, a self-published work, (for copies, contact email@example.com). A Haligonian freelance writer, Johannesen’s approach to verse is spontaneous as Davies is deliberate.
Both writers exhibit the ideal qualities of contemporary East Coast poetry: vernacular freshness plus sculpted articulation.
Johannesen’s Metamorphosis is slimmer and simpler than Davies’ work, for it is an amateur’s artless art. Her lyricism is, frankly, reckless, but beauty is wreaked, nevertheless.
Flight of the Butterfly tells us, sprightly, “Hope is the hue / of my monarch’s wings / in flight. / A silken angel lingers / on perfumed heavenly / petals.” Then, the clichés begin: “gossamer wings,” “lightness of a breeze” and “sips ambrosia”.
Despite an anachronistic term, the poem ends with a sign of poetic promise: “Alas, I dreamed my wings / were held in your / hands. / / you were here, forever. “ Suddenly, the butterfly is no longer an abstract symbol, but the embodiment of a dashed love.
Johannesen’s temptation is to turn things into symbols: a difficult act for even long-practiced poets. But she wins some success where her diction is tactile: “Eros / I want to be a black mare / trot over sandy beaches / feel your dark glistening coat. // I want…/ your eyes (to) peel to my soul…”
With its realized (not only imagined) details, The Wet Poem demonstrates Johannesen’s clear talent: “A blues song plays / faintly / on the radio, / shaking / desk, / my nose is so / stuffed up, / like a false gift / filled with Kleenex, / crinkling, my / head is so pounding. “
Metamorphosis has many such moments, and it is really splendid when verbs are fresh and nouns are firm: “Under leaves crown a massive / ample tree, leaves trickle / to gray earth…”
Johannesen’s book marks the arrival of a gifted voice. Welcome her “rage at bare pages.”