Source: Jane Rosenberg LaForge
Paperback, 44 pgs.
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In Remembrance of the Life by Jane Rosenberg LaForge is a chapbook of elegiac poems. While many deal with tough subjects from death to illness and loss, LaForge cautions that these things are inevitable and to deal with them is universal and part of the human condition. However, these moments should not stop us from living; they are a cause for reflection and transformation.
In “Ode to the Homeopathic” (pg. 1), the speaker talks about the awe of believing in lost cures for what ails you, but also warns how quickly those hopes can be dashed “as sickness moved from mass/to liquid…” Beauty is held as a virtue because it is created from something pure, unlike jealousy and other emotions that are reactive and cultivated in certain climates by actions of others and ourselves.
In “My Mother’s Skin” (pg. 5-6), the speaker wonders aloud at the state of skin and how it comes to get the look it does. Is it from illnesses, abuse, or just the simple process of aging. “I cannot write/about the pattern until I master it/” the speaker says. Discovering the pattern of a life can be difficult from the outside, and even as doctors argue “about what to put on the death certificate/”, readers are left wondering why must we pin down that pattern.
Many of LaForge’s poems require careful attention and could require readers to take second and even third looks, but this does not mean the poems are hard to understand. They are in fact packed fully with imagery and meaning that are interconnected to provide readers an overall sense of the inevitability of death. We should not focus on the end result, however, but on how we have lived and how others have lived — savoring each moment and memory.
“The past is never so long ago/that it cannot be refined … ” (from “I Learned It From a Mormon Girl” (pg. 10)
It also asks the question about medical intervention and whether it is for the patient or ourselves that we prolong lives with tubes and wires? “My father said a lot of things,/like how death took much longer when he/ was a child, not so many tubes in the patient/as the hospital floor covered in trunk lines,/more for show than purpose.” (from “How It Works For Others” pg. 21-22) In Remembrance of the Life by Jane Rosenberg LaForge is a slim and powerful collection remembering life in all its beautiful confusion and ugliness.
About the Poet:
Jane Rosenberg LaForge’s poetry, fiction, critical, and personal essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry Quarterly, Wilderness House Literary Review, Ottawa Arts Review, Boston Literary Magazine, THRUSH, Ne’er-Do-Well Literary Magazine, and The Western Journal of Black Studies. Her memoir-fantasy, An Unsuitable Princess, is available from Jaded Ibis Press. Her full-length collection of poetry, With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women was published in fall 2012 by The Aldrich Press. She is also the author of the chapbooks After Voices, published by Burning River of Cleveland in 2009, and Half-Life, from Big Table Publishing of Boston in 2010. She is a poet and writer living in New York.