in the lake of your bones
by Peggy D. Dobreer
43 Poems/ 69 Pages/$15.00
Moon Tide Press
Buy on Amazon
Reviewed by: Ed Bennett
It is indeed unfortunate that poetry reading are rather simple things: a microphone, perhaps a chair, a poet. The words are spoken, digested by an attentive audience, appreciated for the beauty of imagery and language. For the most part, it is a staid affair ending with restrained yet respectful applause.
This wasn’t always the case. Poetry provided entertainment in a bleak world with the poet enhancing the poem with singing, dancing and other bodily movement for the enjoyment of their audience. We can visualize Homer beating the floor with his staff to stress his hexameters. Over a millennia later, David sang his prayers to the sound of his harp and millennia after that troubadours sang their love poems accompanied by their lutes.
Peggy D. Dobreer’s wonderful book of poems, in the lake of your bones, is a throwback to the time when poets performed and words formed dazzling images. In her poem “Boss Lady”, one can almost feel the burn of
“Mole still burned in her mouth like the friction off
A Christmas train in a souvenir shop”
One of her more interesting poems juxtaposes her “position” in the poetic firmament with Billy Collins. She characterizes Collins as
“You are the nib and the ink.
You are parchment calling at dawn…
You are the invitation, the limousine,
And the note that offers thanks. But you are
Not the firefly, nor the bear in the room.”
It is at this point that the true pyrotechnics of the poem begin with her declaration
“But I am the mission and I am the bell. I am
the fry bread on the truck in the field…
You are the shining salt of a sparkling parable.
You are the horse and you are its blinders.
You are a chariot turning, for heaven’s sake
And make no mistake, you are the best
Of the wheel. You are the spoke and the hub.
And I am a smooth gray stone on the road.”
This simple comparison emerges as a challenge, albeit respectful, to the poetic establishment from the poetry societies and academic journals to the position of Poet Laureate itself. Ms. Dobreer proudly stands outside of this segment of the poetic experience, finding herself more attracted to the grittier experience of “fry bread on the truck”. In this respect, she sounds like Adrienne Rich. Though the Poetic Establishment is larger than her single voice, she uses the allusion of a smooth gray stone, David’s weapon against Goliath, to stake her ground. One can only admire a poet with this kind of confidence, especially when she has the skills to back it up.
This is Peggy D. Dobreer’s first book. Please remember her name because as she develops, she will indeed be a strong voice to reckon with in the coming years. Best of all, she will do it on her own terms, head up and looking the reader straight in the eye.