Sweet, Fledgling Poetry
Costanzo Delivers Her Poetry With a Demure, Budding Style
Growth, acceptance, vulnerability, and confusion are the plumage of this feathered little collection. As the readers flip open the yellow cover and make their way through the pages of Sweet Awakening, they will become most aware of the fledgling nature of Patricia Costanzo’s poetry. They will watch it peek out of its newly-cracked egg and tip it over the nest’s edge, embarking on its own sweet awakening. Costanzo’s poetic voice chirps a bit timidly, but it grows a bit bolder with every fresh attempt to cry out into the artistic universe. Unschooled, with no forms but free verse to guide her, this poet refuses to back down from her attempts at poetic flight.
Much of the collection is focused on the dichotomy of valuing the personal growth, which occurs over time while still being at odds with that grinding force. She writes in “I Wonder," “easier / to not give thought to time /it makes me dizzy when dimensions /sail past two to six.” And yet, in “Breaking Through,” she introduces her readers to a speaker who is “…gentle / timeless / pure love / and that is enough.” That duality which exists in humanity is not scorned or made tidy in Costanzo’s work. She embraces that unruly to the best of her ability.
While many of her poems stay safely in the warm compounds of its nest, readers will sense the air brushing past their faces when Costanzo finally works up the nerve, and allows her poems to glide into the wind. For example, although the main elements of her work are attempts to uplift the spirit, or bring about internal peace, she catches a ride on an aggressive thermal in the second stanza of the poem “Wispy Things.”
where do they go
when all you feel is the black ooze
squishing up between your toes
when the static of the nothing
burns in your ears
when the loveless billows of life
suck the last bits of joy from your lungs
This stanza is exciting, not only because it stands out from the rest of the poetry, but because of its syntax and execution. It is a powerful formation of language, a sign that Costanzo, with time and practice, could produce some higher level work.
And then there is “Sequoia,” which is the most elegant piece in the slender collection; there is no room for argument there. Costanzo’s writing truly soars in this piece. It is miles above its contemporaries on the page. The poet does an excellent job at refusing the temptation to create an idealized speaker. She acknowledges the fantasy of the ideal self, one who is “…ostentatious and colorful…” and reckons with the real, the one who is “…a calm that nearly melts… into the stony steps…” Costanzo does not believe in lying to herself. The poet does an excellent job at refusing the temptation to create an idealized speaker. She acknowledges the fantasy of the ideal self, one who is “… ostentatious and colorful…”, and reckons with the real, the self who is “… a calm that nearly melts… into the stony steps…” Costanzo will not be fooling herself or her audience about who she, as a woman or a poet, is.
“I imagine myself the redwood / older than Jesus…” the poem begins, “…but I am not / I am a shaft of wheat…” She is not what she fantasizes, she acknowledges what she is. There is a great, melancholy beauty to that.
Still, Costanzo offers encouragement to her readers in “No Man Knows: “Spirit the rain / smile your bloom upon the silly man.”
Patricia Costanzo’s Sweet Awakening, published in 2015, is much in agreement with the poet Kimia Madani. Filled with lines like “… molding a shell of crystal stardust…,” Sweet Awakening would make for a happy neighbor next Madani’s The Luminary on the book shelf. Both hold the symbol of self love and self acceptance high.
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