P. Davenport’s first book of poetry, La Brizna, is all at once
autobiographical and at the same time influenced by Cid Corman, Lorine
Niedecker, Charlie Mehrhoff,
and the Beats. La Brizna was designed by Jonathan Greene.
poem from La Brizna:
quiet but living
of prayers hopes
silent offerings that
left this morning
Two Reviews of La Brizna
Bookgirl Press has released Nancy Davenport’s first collection of poetry. This press heralds us from Japan and has enlisted the aid of Mountains and Rivers Press for U.S. distribution. These are two of my favorite presses. In the typical signature of Bookgirl Press, the book is beautifully designed. Nicole Fernandez’s cover art captures the tenor of the poetry within – undulating desert hills that take the eye on a journey with a single blade or strand erupting from the earth in a tentatively firm posture.
Nancy sets the tone for her collection with the first poem in the book, For A Scarecrow. It is quiet, a beautiful meditation on the changing of a season. She captures that precise kernel of a moment where all of the energies of being alive collide in one instance of time. It links past with present and future, and takes your breath away with its simplicity.
I always read poetry out loud to hear its music and the music of the language chosen to build the poem. Form and music reveal a poet’s understanding of the cadences of internal voice. They also demonstrate the facility of the poet’s understanding of how line, space and form behave as a guide for the reader.
Nancy’s poems are carefully constructed and placed on the page to use the silence of space and the branching of lines to force pause and rhythm. By doing this she commands the volume of how we experience her poems. There are several poems that begin with “oh” which I find to be more of a whispered exclamation of sudden awareness than a declaration of surprise: a stepping stone into the poem’s world.
The 24 pages of poetry read like a journey that unfolds through a growing acceptance of the fragile power in self. Some of the poems take that fragility head on as in The Pocket or Thirsty where the struggle to be relevant is played out. Her journey explores the sensuality of environment, whether it is an internal or external space, which is an astonishingly intimate welcome into her awareness.
Her final poem in the book needs to be discovered by you. It works as an affirmation of being. As I reflect on the meanings of Brizna – the strength of a blade, to leave aground – the last poem is a perfect ending to a strong first collection. The poems in La Brizna bear reading many times. I have been captured with each reading. I look forward to her next book.
Reading Nancy Davenport reminds me of one the reasons why poetry came to be in the first place: to make the celebration and heartache of living even more alive.
Nancy’s muse takes a seat directly across from you at the kitchen table and looks you in the eye. She even winks at you on occasion. Or reaches out to squeeze your hand, ever so lightly, somehow conspiratorially.
The magic of LA BRIZNA lies in the warmth and glow of its every day language. And yet the poet speaks beyond. She says only what needs to be said, moves on and lets silence do the rest. The craft of poetry is on display here.
LA BRIZNA is Nancy Davenport’s first solo effort. Sit down with a copy. Feel welcome. You’ll be in good company.