12 - Kitchen Heat by Ava Haymon Aug 21, 2008 18:35:06 GMT 2
Post by shayepoet on Aug 21, 2008 18:35:06 GMT 2
Ava Leavell Haymon
Kitchen Heat records in woman's language the charm and bite of domestic life. Ava Leavell Haymon's poems form a collection of Household Tales, unswerving and unsentimental, serving up the strenuous intimacies, children, meals, pets, roused memories, outrages, and solaces of marriage and family.
Some of the poems are comic, such as "Conjugal Love Poem," about a wife who resists giving her husband the pity he seeks when complaining about a cold. Others find myth and fairy tale lived out in contemporary setting, with ironic result. Others rename the cast of characters: husband and wife become rhinoceros and ox; a carpool driver, the ominous figure Denmother.
An elderly female is Old Grandmother, who creates time and granddaughters from oyster stew. The humidity of Deep South summers and steam from Louisiana recipes contribute to a simmering language, out of which people and images emerge and into which they dissolve again.
All the Men In My Family Hunt
I don¹t hear the alarm. Usually
I don¹t even wake up when you leave.
You drive up together to George's land
in the Felicianas, to hunt wild turkey.
Thermos, coffee breath, jokes in the truck.
Jokes women wouldn't laugh at, jokes
about too much bourbon, the girl
who couldn't get enough. I move over
into the warm spot on your side.
George told me you have to be in the woods
a full hour before first light, someplace
you've seen the birds before, and there
you make the sound of an owl.
Turkeys hate owls so much, they stir
on their roosts and grumble in their sleep.
My mother once told me Daddy heard an owl
the night before he died. I asked her later
what kind of owl it is you hear before you die.
She said, the owl who knows your name.
Anyway, George says you listen for that hoarse gobble
and haul ass toward it, shotgun vertical
in front of you so the stickers won't cut your face.
You can't see. You try to get yourself
into range the exact moment of gray dawn.
If you're early, you¹ll run up too close, and
they¹ll hear you before you can see to take aim.
If you're late, they see you coming and fly off
before you¹re close enough to shoot.
The window by the bed begins to show its frame.
I remember daylight, maybe afternoon.
I¹m nine or ten, I walk behind his slumping bulk
for miles, carrying the shotgun. Bisque colored road ruts
fill with sweet gum leaves, with sycamore sticks,
the cold gun barrel bumps its bruise of honor
against my skinny collarbone. At some signal
I do not hear, he lightens, turns like a dancer
and takes the gun, whispers, Be quiet.
Later--I¹d stood at attention for half an hour--
he comes back uphill, shakes his head, which is all
the story I expect, and there the memory leaves off.
I know what wild turkey looks like
only from the whiskey bottle, but I ate it once
at your mother's--firm, deep-brown meat,
even the breast. It was Thanksgiving,
we were grateful. A dense earth taste
like gun smoke, black walnuts, tar.
In the pillows and the empty bed,
I'm rousing with the urge to kill and eat.
I was 22 years old and we'd just got married.
All the men in my family hunt. Jokes
women wouldn't laugh at anymore, I mean:
back then I used to laugh at them during dinner.
Under the covers, I move my legs to find the place
you left, and half-dream you and George
waiting under sable trees, when you can't see
each other's features or even uprightness,
imitating animal calls you practiced driving up.
Listening for the grumpy sounds of sleep,
running full tilt in the slap dark, guns loaded,
falling across stream beds, armadillo holes, crashing
through blackberries and sticker vines you'd duck under
any other time. Chasing--we are all chasing,
the dream is ending--chasing the shy wild bird I tasted
only that once, I still remember it in my mouth.
Trying to be the owl who knows its name.
Raves and Reviews for Kitchen Heat:
"Poet Henry Taylor says that “Haymon has a contagious avidity for the world’s various offerings—beautiful and otherwise—which she observes through uniquely unsentimental eyes.”
[...]From the universal trials between husband and wife to the mythological tale of one’s matriarchal origins, Haymon’s writing is bold and inventive."
"Ask anyone who’s suffered with a mate’s head cold, prepared 21,982 meals, paid a mortgage, lived with a game hunter, shopped with a teenager, recalled childhood summers or realized the Age of Aquarius has dawned and set – domestic life evokes a rich mix of emotions.
Ask Ava Leavell Haymon and she’ll turn those emotions into poems – the poems collected in Kitchen Heat. Some are tender. Some are humorous. Some are ironic; joyful; biting. None are sentimental, coy or trite. Haymon writes with the conviction of a lioness. People who claim they don’t like or understand poetry like and understand her poetry. And people who savor good contemporary verse are avid fans."
--McCormick Book Inn Reviews
"We all want poets who know 'the veil between worlds is thin,' poets who bear memory in their bone marrow and cast spells. Such a one is Ava Leavell Haymon, who in 'Shopping' with her daughter says, "My job is guru, woman, sage/example; hers, to find what I seek.' With the rich knowledge in Kitchen Heat, we can go on looking for the 'light from unexpected sources' and find it--now from her marvelous new poems."
-- Hilda Raz
"What happens when a full-bore romantic sensibility finds itself closeted in an American middle-class existence? In the case of Haymon, the results are the poems in Kitchen Heat, outcries of frustration, anger, happiness, and joy. This strong collection shows how honest vision and the skill of a true poet can produce striking language and seething drama."
-- Fred Chappell
About the author:
Ava Leavell Haymon writes poems and plays. During the school year, she
teaches poetry writing in Louisiana. In the summer months, she directs the
writers¹ and artists¹ retreat center, Guadalupe Mesa Studios, in the Jemez
Mountains in New Mexico.
Her poems have been published in literary journals, including Poetry, The
Hudson Review, The Southern Review, New Orleans Review, and The Georgia
Review, and in five chapbooks, including Staving Off Rapture, Flume Press
(winner of the Flume Press national chapbook competition). The Strict
Economy of Fire, a full-length collection, was published by LSU Press in
September 2004, and Kitchen Heat was published by LSU Press in 2006. She
was awarded the Louisiana Literature Poetry Prize for 2003.
Author profile: tinyurl.com/66mvf6
Hardcover: 108 pages, $45.00
ISBN-13: 978-0-8071-3171-8 cloth
978-0-8071-3172-5 paper, 112/120 pages, $17.95
Louisiana State University Press, September 2006
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LSU Press: tinyurl.com/5hr4fz
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