Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Terresa Wellborn: "Shedding"

(It's been a while since my last "Mormon Poetry Project" reading, so I thought I'd drop at least one more on you before the end of the year. Enjoy.)

Yesterday, in my continuing quest to track down Mormon poets, I happened upon Terresa Wellborn's blog, "The Chocolate Chip Waffle [Eating Words and Drinking Poetry]" and was struck by the quality of her poetry. Many of the blog poets I've come across have (how shall I say this?) good intentions, but their poetry suffers from sentimentality, which I define as unearned emotion. But I didn't find that here. Terresa's voice is distinctive, clear, and strong and her phrasing is often striking.

In Terresa's poem "Shedding," which is about just that: shedding old "skin," I see places where her language could easily turn cliche, but she keeps it fresh by introducing a fresh comparison, as here: "a bone dry grandmother / who can't be mulched, replanted." Here: "friend's voices rasping like / shells against sand." Here: "I shudder, spent as a marigold / dropping its petals." And here: "iridescent skin / listening to the sun." I especially like how she uses "listening" in a place where many might have said "glistening." The parallel between the words surely acknowledges the latter, but she says a lot more about hearing corporeal experience by leaving off the "g."

I think these are the real bright spots in this poem and I felt them worth highlighting in terms of my present project, especially because such textual moments as these leave me rethinking my own language and my own experience.

Anyway, more of Terresa's poems can be found here, if you're interested in further reading. I think they're well-worth at least a few minutes engagement, if not more.