Review: Caveat by Maria Isakova Bennett

Maria Isakova Bennett, Caveat, Poetry Bus Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-0-9576903-3-2. €8.50.

 

Caveat is an exploration of lust and romance; an expedition through rugged landscapes, oceans and swirling bodies in which the reader glimpses the excitement and honeyed ache of an affair. This is a passionate, sexy and polished pamphlet filled with hope, caution and bittersweet natural imagery.

Many of the poems are restless, reminding me of spring time; hopeful and fresh.  In ‘Transfiguration’, being in love is the most natural and a transformative, if transitory, sensation:

snowdrops along a path,

daffodil shadows grazing a shed –

the house open to a purple sky –

lichen skirting boards, and always –

 

sun through arched windows

lighting both of us.

Again in, ‘After C’ezanne’, hope resounds throughout the poem, love a cozy image hugging tight to the lover:

I moved a finger slow across washed skin,

held fruit in my hands, rain fell soft,

small drops appeared above your lips

and hail hit windows.

In the poem, ‘Unholy Communion’, natural images resound throughout, but begin to hint at a darkness, a warning felt in an affair. One which the author thanks God for, the good and bad:

I’m in a ditch today,

peppery lupins filling my senses, cyan.

I clutch fistfuls of cold earth,

thank God for all feeling, rise.

My favourite poems in the book are those that offer warning to those who may fall in love. A constant motif throughout is that of water, at times stormy and ever changing. In the title poem, ‘Caveat’, we are warned of the unreliable delights of lust:

But beware:

of open arms; the charm of rugged faces;

the attraction

of miles and miles of turbulent skies,

and the promise of racing streams

crashing into Lowermorey river.

Many of the poems are striking in the beautiful simplicity of their language, like in ‘Blue Moon’: “The last time I heard from him,/ The sky was veined like marble,/ An August moon making day of night.” Similarly in ‘Undone’: “To still time, he draws dreams,/  paints new scenes/ and searches for her.” However, that’s not to say that the language is not rich and surprising at times. For example, in ‘Uncanny’ there is a hallucinatory nature within the work, evoking stormy seas and of sense of allure and danger:

…I sit to write

 

swill words around my mouth

Like a Rioja –

disorientation, hallucination,

the semaphore of restless boat sails.

I enjoyed reading this book, finding its poems to be vigorous and full of energy, and avoiding the sentimentality which might be found in a collection with similar themes. The best pieces here speak of the at once timeless yet fleeting elements of forceful ardor, of love; much like the flowers and tempestuous waves contained throughout this evocative pamphlet.

 

Jack Little

 


 

You can buy Caveat here.

Jack Little is a British-Mexican poet, editor and translator based in Mexico City. He is the author of ‘Elsewhere’ (Eyewear, 2015) and is the founding editor of The Ofi Press.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Caveat by Maria Isakova Bennett

  1. John Irving Clarke says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading Caveat. I enjoyed reading the evocative, accessible poems with their subtle layers of meaning; repeated readings lead to further pleasures. And this review does what good reviews should do: illuminate the text and enhance the reading. Thank you both.

    Like

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