Perhaps what I like best about poetry is that you can sit with it for as long or as briefly as you want. Jay Rafferty’s new collection Strange Magic is a quick read, but it feels deep. It feels hopeful. It feels angst. It feels.
(By the way, for more poetic(ish) pondering, here’s the link to my vlog)
The whole collection is just under forty pages and is fraught with both imagery and emotion. That’s something else incredible about poetry—it uses so few words (compared to prose) and yet can accomplish so much. I wouldn’t say that this collection is all about one thing, nor would I say that it’s a series of vignettes about separate but related things. Though, I suppose if I had to describe it in a sentence it would be something along the lines of…
An emotional and eclectic reflection on life and all the weird, awesome, irritating, and unnameable moments in life.
Or, even more simply:
The little magical moments.
Cliche, I know, but bear with me. I think most people think of magical moments as simply the wonderful, awesome snippets of life that take your breath away because it just feels so incredible. (I sat at my machine looking for the right word because that feeling is hard to pin down, don’t you think??)
But I recently was talking to this musician who said, and I’m paraphrasing, ‘that even if something goes “wrong,” it was an experience and that has value.’
Rafferty’s poems “A Fowl Vendetta” (also… love the pun) and “The King Awakes” reminded me of those moments that go awry but still have value. I could try to say why, but just like earlier and describing that “incredible” feeling, it’s hard to pin down. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that AFV reminded me of those, oh-so-relatable, days where everything goes wrong and you just throw up your hands with an “I’m done! I’ve had it!” attitude. And TKA gave me the feeling of what I must imagine a panic attack might be like—there’s just something heavy about that poem.
But then—on a lighter note—there are poems like “I’m magic too,” “Remembering,” and “A Letter to my Sister.” Those poems all had something akin to innocence and wonderment. There were elements of nostalgia and even a bit of humor. These were definitely some of my favorite poems; they just had a certain je ne sais quoi that made me smile.
Perhaps life’s magic is strange because, like Rafferty’s collection, it runs the gamut of emotions. It challenges us to sit—or not—with feelings and experiences. That magic isn’t inherently good or bad, instead it lives in the grey areas of life, shifting and pulling us in all directions, challenging us to see something new.
Truthfully, I want to say more, I want to have some sort of beautifully poetic bridge between those ponderings and my classic “if you like poetry, definitely check this out!” section… but alas, I can’t seem to find the words (still!) to do it quite the way I want to. But that’s okay, the lack of words is an experience, and like with poetry, up to interpretation of what it all means. (Wow that got way more philosophical than I intended!)
So that’s all I have for now! Thanks again to Rafferty for reaching out to me, I love getting recs, especially from the authors/poets themselves.
Next week’s post(s? —I’m going out of town so a vlog is up in the air) will be a review of The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins; so see y’all then!