enshrouded in cloud,
a Chinese painting transplanted to India,
gnarled evergreens grow from cracked granite
like the bonsai that twists into a broad bloom of foliage,
i’d have thought the great white space, simple shapes, and gorgeous deformity
wouldn’t appeal to the Indian mindset —
so taken with vibrancy and fullness,
and yet crowds throng round,
staring in wonder,
ensnared by the same scene as
Shen Zhou when he painted, “Poet on a Mountaintop”
Fan Kuan as he painted, “Travelers Among Mountains and Streams,”
like two lovers fixated on one moon.
This is a collection of short-form free verse poetry. There is a prose poem or two, but mostly it’s of the sparse line variety that’s popular today. The general approach of the collection is the pep talk, using metaphors from nature to convey to the reader how they should cope with heartbreak and other traumas.
It’s arranged into eight chapters, most of which take a theme from nature to tie the component poems together. The section headings are: “the cosmos,” “fire,” “the storm,” “ache,” “the sea,” “wild,” “the Earth,” and “heal.”
The collection offers some clever use of metaphor and imagery, and it’s quite readable. That said, it’s a little heavy on aphorisms for my taste. Instead of evoking emotion purely through imagery, metaphor, and sound, there are many lines that straight out tell the reader how they should feel – albeit often couched in a moving natural metaphor. In a way, Gill’s poems are the antithesis of haiku. While haiku strips away all the analysis, leaving only pure observation, and putting the conversion of that observation into feelings into the reader’s hands, Gill connects the dots for her readers.
Overall, I enjoyed reading these poems. As I mentioned, there are ways in which they are not my cup of tea, but – of course – I’m not Gill’s intended demographic either.