Fair Creatures of an Hour by Lynn Levin

Lynn Levin‘s Fair Creatures of an Hour is a collection of poetry that draws on current events — Smarty Jones in “Little Red Telegram” and skydivers Sara Loshe and Ron Samac in “Freefall” — imagery, and culture to draw in its readers.  Levin intertwines traditional Jewish rituals and stories into her poems, and interjects a fresh perspective.  Readers will intimately understand her and mimic her lines.

“What finer thing is there than to pour out
your thoughts and have someone drink
of your meaning?
It is better than being loved
I sometimes think
for love is not everything.”  (Page 61, “I Wanted to Tell You”)

Levin creates a wistful atmosphere in some of her poems, but easily turns that into something playful.  Even in her most serious poems, Levin cultivates an undercurrent of sarcasm, playfulness, and hope.  From “Peace Is the Blithe Distraction,” Levin repeats the word “peace” and uses each subsequent line to illustrate what peace can mean to even the worst of enemies and how hope plays an integral role.

On the other hand, her humor is ever present as she begins more than one poem with horoscope predictions and planet alignments.  Readers will enjoy the wit shown in these poems and will nod in agreement with many of them.  Levin has an eye for the human condition and the emotions, even those not most desirable. 

The White Puzzle (Page 42)

To love jigsaw puzzles, you have to love trouble —
the mad messing of a picture, the slow steps back to art.
Years ago, my brother and I spent hours
breaking up then piecing back
The Skating Pond by Currier & Ives,
Remington’s The Old Stage-Coach of the Plains
the cardboard pieces colonizing
the game table in the family room.
There was satisfaction in the fitting together
the doing of the definite task
then some days of admiration
of the solved thing before the sundering.
Once someone gave us a white puzzle,
a real head-breaker, the blank pieces
many and small like the counties of a state.
This was fitting for the sake of fitting.
No art in it that we could see, but we stuck to it,
and after a while the pieces began to clump together
like new snow on the lawn.
I remember the way our small talk
scribbled itself over the gathering page:
something about a math bee and Old Man Sprague
who kept sheep in his backyard and had a gun.
We nibbled popcorn, made Montana take shape
with its three sides and human profile,
the pieces knit like bone.
When the white puzzle was complete
we loved the way it lay like moonlight on the floor
then sat before our conquered space,
two Alexanders wanting more.

The poet includes references and explanations in the back of Fair Creatures of an Hour, of which the title is taken from a John Keats poem, “When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be.”  Levin’s collection is about embracing the moment and being comfortable with oneself before fate steps in.  Well worth reading again and again, Levin’s collection will leave readers wanting more.

Please check out 20th Virtual Poetry Circle for a discussion of Levin’s “Helium.”  Also, for another review, please check out The Pedestal Magazine.  Stay tuned for an interview with Lynn Levin.

I want to thank the poet, Lynn Levin, and Arlene Ang for setting me up with a free copy for review. 

This is my 7th book for the poetry review challenge.