A review of
by Patricia Young
Patricia Young’s Night-Eater provides a collection of portraits, not the type of portraits you would find anywhere; these are a Picasso-esque gathering of portraits with the angles jutting in odd directions and the style unique. Her choice of subject ranges from swabbies, to professor, from two stubborn Ayapaneco-linguists to a hungry somnambulist. Her topics help provide original perspectives. One of the finest portraits is “Daughter at Thirteen” (21).
She sighed in the bath, at the height of summer,
crossing the road, red jeans and black boots,
trucks whipping past.
Deep inhalations, slow exhalations.
She sighed because she sighed because she sighed,
running up and down the escalator. Tilted her head,
that exquisite sculpture, and sighed
as though her heart
were a kettle boiled dry.
Young’s accuracy of the portrayed blended with the dramatic irony, gave me a laugh. And as the poem continues, it reveals a theme in Young’s poems. Accute and quirky observation which cumulates at insight. She tackles a few poems that could be classified as eco-poetic, but manages to keep romantic pastoral out of the discourse. In the poem “Sisyphean” she talks of a man and a son who come to clean the beach every Sunday, while another poem, reminiscent of junk drawer cleaning, talks of “What Doesn’t Breakdown”:
I was on my knees sifting out Chiquita banana stickers,
Toothpaste caps, twist ties, Styrofoam chips, baby rattles,
Sunglasses, cell phones, keyboards, weather stripping,
triple AAA batteries, remote controls, airplane propellers,
medical waste, chaos, gravity, a house of cards. (33).
The mundane and small build to a subtle and profound observation. Chaos does not break down. Yet, Night-Eater’s impulse is to take what is illogical and render it digestible in these poems.
Patricia Young lives and writes in Victoria, B. C.
This review appears in FreeFall Volume XXIII Number 2 Spring / Summer 2013