Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Susanna Roxman, Imagining Seals

Susanna Roxman, a Scottish-Swedish poet, recently sent her book Imagining Seals (Dionysia Press, ISBN 1-903171-19-9). I guess in a nutshell I would say that it’s written in a straightforward, lyric style, with a partiality to Classical mythology (some of the poems deal with themes like Eurydice and Orpheus, Circe, etc.). But Roxman has an interesting voice and brings a certain originality to her work on the whole. For example, in “A Roman Officer in Winter Quarters,” a poem with historical subject matter, she gets psychological, using expressions such as “It’s like lying awake in darkness between two dreams about rage” and “An overwhelming winter moon / floods me with sleep-inducing water.” But for me, the more interesting pieces were the ones that presumably come from the author’s real life experience, say snapshots of Edinburgh on a rainy evening, cigarette butts, and empty beer bottles slowly filling with water (“Rain in Edinburgh”). Or “The Haunted Hut,” rendered in rather stark terms:

It looks like a TV set,
the deserted Lappic hut,
screen facing west

but walls covered with torn turf...

The couple of dream poems (one identified as such, one not) also stood out to me, but I have been known to appreciate subconscious materials at times. I have also written about seals myself, now that I think about it, so I should say something about the title poem, “Imagining Seals” (which can be read at the link). It might be true that “something otherworldly and weird / clings like wetsuits to these creatures” (I liked the ironic “wetsuit” description), and it is certainly true that seals have very expressive faces, which quite obviously reveal some kind of thought or emotion, making you wonder at the whole idea of sea mammals – it’s astounding sometimes, really, when you see them sticking their heads up out of the water by the shore, looking at you. What I didn’t like about the poem was the cliché of “Seals live effortlessly by lunar logic, / are psychic, understand cycles...” and are “serene and healing” and all that. Maybe they are, maybe they do, but this New-Agey sort of thing is played, big-time. At least the poem sort of saves itself with the oblique ending, “Mostly, though, your mind is not on seals.”

This varied collection is certainly worth a look, in any case. Apparently the publisher does not have a website yet. £6.50, Dionysia Press, 127 Milton Road West, 7 Duddingston House Courtyard, Edinburgh EH15 1JG, Scotland.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, U R right, Roxman ROX!!! Shes THE BEST, and TEXAS shouldd sing what she rights. I just LOVE Seal Wimmin, its AWESOME. TEXAS R so cool and they could do Seal Wimin with Sharleane, I heard she did A valedixion, thats Roxman U no. Or maybe they just wanted 2, I dont no. Must go to bednow. keep up the good work!!! PS Dont no if TEXAS R tgether still.

Anonymous said...

Do you have Sami on you ?