This is my first book of poetry in the six I am trying to read in 2010. It’s a short slip of a book but I still spread it out over a few weeks, simply because I know next to nothing about poetry and have a difficult time reading it. For all my troubles, though, Apologies to an Apple was remarkably easy to understand. It’s not that the poetry was that much more simple than other poetry I’ve read in the past, but it was clear and relatable. I think that’s what made the difference for me.
The book is split into three parts, though to be honest I’m not sure for what reason each section is grouped together. I repeat: I am really horrible when it comes to anything to do with poetry. I’m sure there is some theme or rhythm or other element that ties each section together, but whatever it is went completely over my head. I just read for the poems themselves. I preferred Part 1 and the second half of Part 2 to the rest of the book.
I marked 7 poems that I really, really enjoyed. Obviously I can’t put them all here, but I want to give an example of Ganesan’s poetry, so I’m picking out my favorite three to discuss.
We become each other’s silhouette,
fire, and at-my-fingertips shadow.
We merge, and each of our hearts lifts
that of the other like puppeteers’
strings pulling slowly upwards, upwards.
I don’t know that I fully grasp everything she’s saying here, honestly. It borders on not-so-simple, and my brain can’t take not-so-simple poetry. But I like the feeling, this becoming one in order to fly together, or flying together because you have become one.
The Art of Knowing
no one knows you are coming and going underneath
this big sky and drinking a hundred vowels each
minute, drinking and spitting
you are walking underneath the awning of a petite
French-style cafe and someone five miles away
This one is far more comprehensible to me and it is something I’ve felt so many times in my life, that my life – that anyone’s life – is entirely pointless outside their surroundings. We are all so small and insignificant. It’s a very humbling feeling, as well as a terrifying one, and she captures it perfectly.
No Way Out
I am trapped in a
whirlwind of crossroads
that I know nothing about,
let alone how to
find my way
out of the maze.
Every turn opens up
a new alleyway of
more roads to follow.
so I can wonder about
leads to the way out.
Another feeling I can relate to so much. This is probably my favorite poem of the bunch. I think all of us who have grown up can relate to this feeling – that there are so many choices and so many things we can do, that it is hard to figure out what we should do. Like the fig tree in The Bell Jar. It’s a frightening crossroads.
Maya Ganesan’s understanding of the world is magnificent. She observes things around her in a way that reminds me of my own childhood (she turned 11 the week she put the finishing touches on this book). Though I wrote stories and was never any good at poetry, I understand what it is like to pick up little touches of the world around me and have to go write them down. This is her first book, and I am interested to see where she goes from here.