Pity the Bathtub its Forced Embrace of the Human Form
author : matthea harvey
pages : [paperback] 80
Comic, elegaic, and always formally intricate, using political allegory and painterly landscape, philosophic story and dramatic monologue, these poems describe a moment when something marvelous and unforeseen alters the course of a single day, a year, or an entire life.
This is a somewhat difficult book of poetry to go though simply because of the stylistic approach Harvey takes. Most of her poems have sentences that blend into each other, as the word that completes a previous sentence is used to begin a new sentence. Reading the poems can leave the meaning a little disjointed if you lose your place; reading them aloud sometimes doesn’t help because you don’t know where to stop to catch a breath. But Harvey’s fantastical ideas still shine through in this collection, so I ended up enjoying it.
I like how Harvey can take one completely unrealistic idea and roll with it, turning it into an entire poem. She never states her idea for the reader outright, skirting around the unconventional thought like it’s a normal aspect of our lives and waiting for us to figure out what’s different in the world of these characters. She creates different figures and stories within her poetry, which I really enjoyed.
I think that a lot of people will like these poems, if they take the time to sit with them for a while. This is poetry that you can’t read quickly; it demands to be held at arm’s length and read a few times until you understand the general meaning. Then it needs to be analyzed even further. While this isn’t a bad thing, it means that Harvey’s collection may be overlooked as people search for poetry that is an easier (and faster) read.