Tuesday Review: Landscape of The Wait by Jami Macarty

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I have not blogged in a long while, but I am getting back to it. I am going to start a new Tuesday Review series, where I review books of poems that I come across. I couldn’t think of a better way to launch the series than to start with poet Jami Macarty’s new chapbook book of poems Landscape of The Wait, published this year by Finishing Line Press.

With hauntingly beautiful images, Macarty maps a territory no parent wants to step foot in, let alone chart. She not only maps it, she paints it with painstaking precision and beauty, such that we can’t help but follow her into a space we would prefer never to go. In the collection, the poems traverse the heartbreaking landscape that a parent inhabits as she sits vigil over her adult child who lies in coma following a car accident.

The title poem, “Landscape of The Wait” lays it out there in lines that look and feel in some way like the lines of a map, the roads that start and end with words and brief thoughts that must, in those moments when it’s hard to know when or if to grieve or when or if to celebrate any small victory, feel disconnected.

wait

                           monitor                        when or ever

our want

                                                                  his eyes to open

doubt large now

                             breath or gravel

each instinct’s 

                            trance

 

Still, it’s the poem “Fracture” that opens the door, points the way in, both literally as the opening poem in the collection and figuratively as a map of how to cross from what was into the “wait.”

where I pull over                            to listen to

                                                       the desolate

cellular voice

 

a hummingbird                               needles weeds

invading                                          the clear felling

 

 

where pell-mell insterstate             his body

                                                       through the car window

happens happens happens      

Each moment in that moment of sudden awareness is fractured and we begin to see as Macarty does that the moments will never come together in the same way again. It’s not simply they way she carefully unfurls the images, however, it’s the way she uses the page that gives us the full impact of those vast extended moments.

son                                                          a shadowed Now

where days of no change                  extend beyond

days                                                       of change

Even in those poems where the images come at you with no break, there is a feel of floating, being suspended, in a space where there is no way to know where the roads end or begin or if they are even grounded in anyway. The poem “At the Time of Accident” shows this in a visceral way as we are given the son’s image of the accident as the poet imagines it in a montage of images that give us a sense of slow-motion suspension. We being to clearly feel the surreal nature of the wait.

airborne, he thought. hang-

ing on time’s lost line

suffer suspension,

he thought. near-sighted

horizon. no or-

dinary flying

In the end, there is no destination that this map can take the reader that is outside the wait. It doesn’t end. It suspends us in the landscape of waiting.  All there is is the wait, the continued space that Macarty calls to with heartbreaking longing in the poem “If Only What If.”

If only you took the back way

what if, approaching the toll booth, you pull over to search for change

if only your radio operative

what if the iPod had yet to be invented

if only the semi driver called in sick

what if he stopped for gas

~

If only no caveats with extended footnotes

if only attentive to randomness, exception

if no matter the unlocking, day can become road scarring

if no one deserves this, certainly not you

Macarty teaches contemporary poetry and creative writing at Simon Fraser University. She also advises and edits the online poetry journal The Maynard. Her chapbook collection Landscape of The Wait can be purchased at Finishing Line Press, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

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Emerging From the Divide

 

I see a lot of mountains. I love mountains. I feel at home near the mountains. Some people feel at home near water. I like water, too, but I love the mountains. They represent so much. They are vast here. They are hard and beautiful. Here it is easy to leave the business of life and hit a trail for a while where there is no chatter. It’s easier to see there are bigger things than us.

There is no good segue from that to this, to discussing the way I have begun to let go and let myself dive into writing again. Maybe the mountains just represent the letting go for me. Maybe this picture of a great divide represents my own divide, or the process of dividing in half the way things were and the way things are now with something new emerging from all of it.

The way things were were tense and serious and hard, not that things shouldn’t be hard. I lived by a book that someone else had written. I learned from that book. Yes, I am talking about writing. I was serious about it. I wrote serious stories about life. My first book, which is in a drawer, is a serious story about a life I once knew, a life I needed to release in some way, maybe that way.

There is no good way to say this, but I the floundered. I floundered after grad school as I tried to figure out what to do with all of that. I jumped from writing group to writing group trying to find a good fit. I tried to find beta readers for stuff that had grown stale a long time ago.

Here, by the mountains, I found a little writing book, Benjamin Percy’s book Thrill Me. I hadn’t read a craft book in a while. I was pretty down on craft, confused about it. Percy gave me permission, permission to go where I wanted to go, to take my serious writing learning and find the holes in reality I was always looking for. That’s what I am doing now with the very real, very big mountains in view.

I’m in the midst of marketing my first book of poems, but already my focus is shifting from poems to time and divides and mountains and things that as I write I can’t really explain, and it feels good. It feels right.

Exciting Publishing News

Trapani-Scott_Cristina_COV.jpgThis is the cover of my forthcoming chapbook of poems The Persistence of a Bathing Suit. The getting here has all been kind of crazy. The short of it is in Spring of last year I submitted my manuscript to Finishing Line Press for their New Women’s Voice competition last spring. At the same time my husband and I were in the process of selling our house and moving to Colorado. Flash forward a bunch of months and, on a whim, I happened to look at my submission manager site and noticed the manuscript was accepted, but I had not heard anything. I went to publisher’s website and also didn’t see anything.

As it turns out, I inadvertently opened two Submittable sites, one through the email I always use and one through the “login with Facebook” feature that is connected to my old email I rarely look at. All info on this had gone to my old email. The short of it is that the manuscript was a semi-finalist for the award, and I was offered a contract. Now, I am here looking at a tentative May 2017 release of my first book of poems. Here is the most amazing cover with photo taken by my talented pro photographer brother Paul Trapani and featuring his beautiful wife, my sister-in-law Leeann Berry.

I dig that the publisher has given me the freedom to make my family a part of this project. My family is a huge inspiration for this project. The poems explore what I call the “the in-between space” that for me emerged between surviving breast cancer (being a young survivor) and coming to terms with how to survive breast cancer. Most people think, “Yay, you survived and that’s awesome. Now you can move on.” It is awesome, but it also creates a starkly different space that for me meant a long period of adjustment. The journey is different for everyone. This is my journey and these poems examine the different perspectives of my journey throughout that space.

I am excited that these poems will be out in the world in some small way. Right now, the book can be preordered. The preorder period is key to the book’s release. I do have to sell a minimum of 55 books in presales for the initial press run. If you would like to order the book, you can order it here or by clicking the title of the book above or the link attached to the publisher.

This is the start of an exciting and incredible journey all its own. I’ve been working toward this goal amid all kinds of distractions for the better part of my adult life. I couldn’t have done it without my family and my mentors.