Luck-trampled Clover

She's a difficult poet. Not because she is inaccessible. But because of the delight we take in examining the stitching dangerously makes us miss the hang of the garment. But not quite, we can and are expected to reread — the lyric or sequence is short enough to accommodate attention to both the fine detail and the overarching construction.

Who is she? What drives her art? Let's listen in to Phoebe Wang in an interview published in the Brockton Writers Series blog.

Essentially I’m a lyric landscape poet, if I really wanted to put labels on myself. I like to write about things as a distance, and I tend to have an abstract, impersonal view of the world. But I think the most thrilling poems come out when I feel like I’m being backed into a corner. When I finished this series, this experiment, I did see that the “ekphrastic” label didn’t really fit. I had been writing in a very personal way all along, but suffered from a kind of myopia. So now when I’m writing a poem about fog or about a long walk in the neighborhood, I’m conscious of it being a very internal, private poem and not something separate from my psyche. Conversely, the harder I tried to represent my family as who they really are, they more archetypal they became.

BWS 14.09.16: Phoebe Wang
And let us juxtapose that with a blurb by David O'Meara to Phoebe Wang's chapbook Occasional Emergencies
Phoebe Wang's ekphrastic poems remind me that art is not just an object to be viewed passively but is an interaction, worth climbing inside and inhabiting.
Here, dwell upon these for a while.
We build so one of us
     might levitate

"The Tower" after Louis Gréaud [I], Centre Pompidou
Occasional Emergencies
The parliament of voices no longer sovereign
rehearses its next course of action

builds consensus by semitones and minor intervals.

"Feedback Loop" after Janet Cardiff, The Forty-Part Motet Occasional Emergencies
This haiku-like kenning has been purloined as our title:
luck-trampled clover

from "Manhunt" after Charlotte Posenenske, Prototype for a Revolving Vane
Occasional Emergencies
The poem in part about school children's games becomes by its end a meditation on chance and the aleatory.
The bell collected us like a deck of cards
     face-up on the yard's blank baize.
See what I mean by difficult? Doesn't let you, dear reader, off the hook for your "connivence" as the French would say or simply complicity as the English might.

Take two lines (from "Guiding Lights" in Admission Requirements), precious in themselves by their working over a repetition to induce wave-action:
and waves worked toward the tideline
and the tideline aspired to its high water mark.
Which remembered stretch us into the mode of striving. Which reread in their context become so much more
as missed opportunities. My path swerves
around keeled dinghies, stroller tires, debris
of a bounteous season, when we made waves
and waves worked toward the tideline
and the tideline aspired to its high water mark.
Over the peaks and valleys — see it?
Someone's left the stovelight on.
Dear Poet, thank you for leaving lights on and guiding us.

And so for day 1885