I’ve spent this week slowly reading Elaine Fletcher Chapman’s beautiful collection Hunger For Salt. Elaine describes her own writing style as minimalist. She says she’s in love with the white space. I can’t argue with that. Certainly, most of the poems are very short in length. I believe the shortest, a poem titled “Still Mourning” is a mere three lines. But to describe Elaine’s writing or these poems as minimalist doesn’t paint a full picture because each poem is so realized. Elaine’s choices are so precise and thoughtful, even short poems feel very full. So many of these poems feel meditative, and that tone is strengthened by spiritual references. Her poem, “Searching,” is one of my favorites in the collection, and in it, she tells us that she borrows phrases from the Buddhists. Read the poem below:
Still trying to accept loss,
I borrow phrases from the Buddhists:
a bowl and a spoon, a single robe,
chop wood, carry water.
Name this one room studio
Holy place of contemplation.
Last week I stepped into the stone labyrinth
and immediately heard, go home.
For a week I asked, Where is home?
I open the door to hear the rain
and distant thunder. I pour
a cup of freshly brewed tea, add ice
and fresh lemon. I ask again,
Where is home?
I return to Basho,
and St. Teresa of Avila:
Another of my favorite poems is “Anticipation of Blossoms.” Instead of copying the poem’s text here, I’m going to attempt to embed a video of the poem that was created by the very talented Laura Lipson. (If the embed doesn’t work, please see the link to Elaine’s webpage below.)
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/211019399″>Poetry Video: Anticipation of Blossoms</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/elainefletcherchapman”>Elaine Fletcher Chapman</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Laura created 3 poetry videos from Elaine’s work, and they’re each beautiful. They would also be very useful for teaching purposes. I hope you’ll take the time to visit Elaine’s website where you can view all of the poetry videos as well as a great trailer about the collection: http://elainefletcherchapman.com/poetryvideos.html. I’m glad to have had this book to help me through this past winter week.