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In Remembrance of the Life by Jane Rosenberg LaForge

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.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women

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.

Follow her on Twitter: @JaneRLaForge. And see her author page on Facebook.

Mailbox Monday #383

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds purchased from Audible.

Trapped for three days by a flood, and trapped forever by society because of it….

The river isn’t the only thing overflowing in Hunsford when a natural disaster forces Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy to work together. The residents of flood-stricken Hunsford, seeking refuge in the parsonage atop the hill, are unaware they are interrupting Darcy’s disastrous proposal. Even worse, the flood has washed out the only bridge to Rosings Park, stranding Darcy with the woman who has just refused his offer of marriage. But it may already be too late to redeem Elizabeth’s reputation….

In this Pride & Prejudice variation, the lane dividing the Hunsford parsonage from Rosings Park has been replaced by one of the flood-prone Kentish rivers. The storms are real – the spring of 1811 was remarkable for numerous thunderstorms in Southeast England.

Disinheritance: Poems by John Sibley Williams for review in September.

A lyrical, philosophical, and tender exploration of the various voices of grief, including those of the broken, the healing, the son-become-father, and the dead, Disinheritance acknowledges loss while celebrating the uncertainty of a world in constant revision. From the concrete consequences of each human gesture to soulful interrogations into “this amalgam of real / and fabled light,” these poems inhabit an unsteady betweenness, where ghosts can be more real than the flesh and blood of one’s own hands.

“In John Sibley William’s “amalgam of real /and fabled light” one is able to believe again in the lyric poem as beautiful-if difficult-proof of private space. Disinheritance contends intimately with loss, to be sure – but it also proposes the poem as a way to remember, to persist, to be oneself, to believe. And to persist when belief may not be possible within the bounds of the shores the seas impose upon us.” -Joan Naviyuk Kane

In Remembrance of the Life by Jane Rosenberg LaForge for review from the poet.

A chapbook by Jane Rosenberg LaForge. 25 elegiac and unflinching poems that harvest a transformative beauty from the fields of memory and loss. “Rosenberg LaForge points toward the beauty of inevitability; death is less an end than a step toward ‘the infinite, and you can/ no longer resist the distance.’ Reading these poems is often akin to “diving into a rainbow of saffron and petrol,” where the choices one makes may not be choices at all.”

What did you receive?

With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women by Jane Rosenberg LaForge

With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women by Jane Rosenberg LaForge takes a look at not only what it means to be young and full of dreams, aspirations, and confidence, but also the flip side of that — what it means to be older and confined by societal, professional, and personal constraints.  Her verse is topsy turvey with its own underground beat that shimmies out the fine-tuned truth that whether or not we are rock gods or ordinary people we are the same in how we are shaped and how we shape the world around us.  From hiding our wrinkles and our broken dreams to wearing them proudly, LaForge has crafted an unapologetic anthem about living, not merely surviving the world around us.

From "Prodigy":

It is youth that keeps you pale and concerned
about the smaller buzzing parts, the soil
and the pine cones there, and the grace
between fists and teacups.  You are a foil,
a reminiscence, a sobering glance forward
because nothing can be repeated, metric by 
metric; speaking the dream always changes it
irreparably, as if it weren't worth mentioning.
From "Apollo at 21st and 8th":

record we shed each day,
the accumulation of our pasts
that we deposit upon wood and 
polish, in the shafts and patterns
of directed sunlight.  Could gods
begin in dust and spit not as we have,

The collection is divided into two parts, and the first section, despite the title of the Mick Jagger poem, are hardly apologetic. From the crass way that age takes over the face to the abandonment of religion and faith in favor of the present and those rock stars before us on the television, LaForge chooses terse language clipped in the right places to give readers enough pause to encourage serious contemplation about aging and worship of the present. In “Runyon Canyon,” her narrator says, “It is not the soul that grows/in your bone, but a whistle;/as if a palpable friction between/lip and reed; a green-sweet taste/like hesitation and sympathy;” These images blend together to create a sound that hums.

In the second half of the collection, the poems are more personal, delving into the sorrowful images of disease and how the body can be ravaged even when the patient is in denial or at least trying to pretend they are not ill. LaForge takes a frank look at the grotesque found in the most beautiful relationships, including being sisters.  With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women by Jane Rosenberg LaForge strikes a pose and has an opinion without apology, and don’t expect one.  The statements are bold and without explanation.  They just are.

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.

 

This is the 23rd book for my 2012 Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge.

 

 

This is my 82nd book for the New Authors Reading Challenge in 2012.

171st Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 171st Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2012 Fearless Poetry Reading Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Please visit the stops on the 2012 National Poetry Month Blog Tour.

Today’s poem is from Jane Rosenberg LaForge’s With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women:

With Apologies to Dylan Thomas (page 34)

My funeral swoon was in my
ribs the first time you died:
my supple fix, my lonesome
ambition; and within that
harness of rigor and skin,
I felt at that moment a reed
and its fingers chose to seek
out their height and freedom.
Had they reached my mouth
from the oppression of my heart,
lungs and esophagus, the dewy
and rude things they might
have said: I am through waiting,
I should be celebrating, I
should have shaved my head,
but I lacked the courage.  I
have always been a spectator.
I am essentially a disbelieving
person.  After the first death,
the poet said, the others become
academic, and the shocks my body
now contains are stupendous.

What do you think?

Mailbox Monday #194

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is BookNAround.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received from the library sale a couple weekends ago:

1.  Chosen by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

2.  Haunted by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, which I already had and didn’t realize, so I’ll be re-donating it to the library for them to sell again!

3.  Untamed by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

4.  Burned by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

5.  Tempted by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast; I still need the second book, Betrayed.

6.  Undercover by Beth Kephart, which is my favorite of her books and one I had borrowed from the library but did not own; Thanks, Anna for finding it.

7.  Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow

8.  A Working Girl Can’t Win by Deborah Garrison

9.  The Poems of Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, translated by Eugene M. Kayden

Review books that have arrived:

10.  Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman, which came unsolicited from Penguin.

11.  Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know by Hy Conrad and Jeff Johnson for a TLC Book Tour in October.

12. The Boys of ’67 by Dr. Andrew Wiest for review.

13. One Last Strike by Tony La Russa, which came unexpectedly and will likely be passed onto someone who would love to read it.

14. The Demoness of Waking Dreams by Stephanie Chong, which came unexpectedly from WunderkindPR and will likely also find a new home.

15. With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women by Jane Rosenberg LaForge for review.

What did you receive?