Guest Post by Maureen O’Brien
Recently I found a poem that gave me rare permission to admit how much love I feel, even in the face of cynical, worldly evidence I should just close up my heart until I die. Alex Dimitrov’s poem “Love”, first published in The American Poetry Review and then reprinted in The Best American Poetry 2021 guest edited by Tracy K. Smith, spills and sprawls with nine double-spaced pages of sentences, each one beginning with “I love.” It’s a list poem, predictable in structure—“I love looking at someone without need or panic.”—yet sensual: “I love statues in a downpour.” With these declaratives, I adored how I entered effortlessly into the rhythms and curvatures of the poem.
But more than the syntactical ease, it required no intellectual or political bracing. How often do we encounter text that cools, that refreshes? Dimitrov skips comfortably through the narrator’s life, covering various topics—literature, relationship, time: “I love that a day on Venus lasts longer than a year.” and “I love the blue hours between three and five when Plath wrote Ariel.” This poem possesses a wide lens trained on the interior of the heart, the exterior. With a clear emotional bravery, “Love” unabashedly just admits, through a repeated subject and verb, the truth.
“LOVE” by Alex Dimitrov. Love and Other Poems, Copper Canyon Press, February 2021.
Reviewer bio: Maureen O’Brien is the author of the spiritual memoir What Was Lost: Seeking Refuge in the Psalms (Franciscan Media, 2021). Her next book, Gather the Fragments: Finding Everyday Miracles and Abundance is forthcoming from Franciscan Media (January 2023). She is a contributor to St. Anthony Messenger and the online site Pause+Pray. She has also published a novel, B-mother (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and The Other Cradling, a chapbook of poems (Finishing Line Press). Find her on Instagram: maureen_obrien_writer
If you are interested in contributing a Guest Post to “What I’m Reading,” please click this link: NewPages.com Reviewer Guidelines.