We made a shape and we called it a country
We didn’t know how much blood it would take to fill the idea
Ghost in a Red Hat by Rosanna Warren was a random pick from the library shelves. I decided to give poetry a chance, and I liked the few lines I read as a test. I don’t read a lot of poetry but I remember getting involved with the imagery and emotion of poetry when I was younger. This slim volume is very enjoyable. The author has a nice way with words and a gift for turning a phrase. Death, and dying was a predominant theme featured throughout the book as various poems struggled with catastrophes like cancer and the Civil War. Nature and music were also woven through many of the poems. “Hydrangea” is a poem about the king of plants, enthroned above a garden, surveying all its territory and subjects, but even this poem that starts out humorous and lighthearted ends with a sad note, the knowing emperor hydrangea watches on while sad adults search the garden for a missing child.
The poems were emotional and sometimes heart wrenching with their discussion of chemo and seeking peace in the wake of trauma. Reading the poems aloud gave greater meaning and power to the flow of the words and dropped me into the worlds Warren created. Poetry can be a personal thing, a way of working through some thought or emotion. Its just as personal for the reader as it is for the writer, for the reader, though, its not what was the author trying to say, more like, why is it so impactful, how the reader relates and experiences those thoughts. How, there are some experiences that are universal, that we can all relate to, like love, pain, despair, hope, peace, death, loss, and joy. No matter the specifics of the experience, like being in a hospital room with someone going through a terminal illness or losing a child, a good poet will involve the reader, make them see it, feel it, and explore those moments. Warren did this in her work. In many of her poems, I was fully engaged, and felt joy, despair, love, hope and grief.