Daniela Elza's Review of Robert Martens "Poltergeist"

This first appeared on Daniela's website Strange Places. Re-printed with permission.

I just finished reading Robert Marten’s chap book Poltergeist (published by Lipstick Press, 2011). I had the opportunity to listen to Robert read from Poletrgeist at the Harrison Hot Springs Arts Festival, where we ended up performing in the same show.

After I put the book down I found it circling around my head. Echoes calling me back to contemplate what was stirred, what was raised. The Poltergiest became my own history haunting my present. (As if I needed more encouragement.) And the doors of my wardrobe, or shall I say wordrobe started to rattle.

I found a shared space with the stories told, the way Robert weaves the present and the past. There were even moments that remind me of instances in my travel poems. Of layers, of juxtapositions. That was spooky. But, really, more joyful to find a sensibility which resonates, one that is not afraid of time
travel. Or raising things up…

(Aside: I was also reminded how during the time I lived in Bulgaria poltergeist stories were a staple. I worked with a producer on a documentary about a family who drew media attention for having a poltergeist in their house. I am a skeptic by nature, but when the carpet flipped and the washing machine stood on its edge and no rationalizing or reasoning could help me, I started to listen. (Then I contrast that with my life here in North America. How often do you hear people sharing stories of ghosts and poltergeists?)) That too is spooky.

Though the book begins with

i don’t like to tell
 this story, i sd, &
 sipped my coffee
 black, because people
 will think i’m
 crazy, & i smiled,
 but maybe, i sd,
 maybe i should write
 a poem about it,
 sure why not, she
 sd, because they
 think you’re crazy
 for writing poems
 anyway

Robert does tell the stories through his poem. As he goes through Childhood, Rome, Barcelona, Ukraine etc. He tells them well using the tools of poetry to enhance the story, the moment, and its significance.

I loved it when the children in Sunday School ask their teacher: “will there be cougars in heaven?” The urgency of their questions, the curiosity of their young minds, challenging the adult world, the rigid ideologies that it gets wrapped in.

Do you hear your poltergiest rattling in your words, in your house, in your bones? Listen.

Comments

Franci Louann said…
How delightful to find this - Robert & Daniela are two of my favourite poets...

I'll read with Daniela this afternoon & hope to read with Robert again some day...

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