Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Poets' wives - David Park

Some books are read for their stories, whereas some are savoured for their vivid imagery. David's Park's The Poets' Wives belongs to latter category.

The gist:

The poets in question are William Blake, Osip Mandelstam, a Russian revolutionary poet and an unknown Irish poet. These are three separate stories which are told from their wives' point of view.

Blake's reputation as a madman yet a genius in the eyes of his wife as he breathed life into words and turned them into poetry is very effective although a bit abstract. Park makes a great connection between Blake and his poetry by inserting lines at appropriate intervals.

The second account is that of Nadehzha Mandelstam and the how his rebellious poetry cost him his life and turned into a fugitive.

The third is that of an unknown contemporary Irish poet, how his poetic sensibilities restrained him from reaching out to his wife and children.  Each account is different for the era and society separates the poets but they are bound by the common thread of fighting a society that wants them to tame them.

What works:

The language is beautiful and the moving images

What doesn't:

Although there is a bit of background, often the stream of consciousness gets a bit taxing for the reader to stay on board with the text.

The voices though they are poignant feel a bit incomplete, leaving the reader wanting for a more comprehensive account

The writing style is brilliant and the descriptions are evocative. However it is a taxing read and requires perseverance to enjoy it.

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