Syracuse poet Deborah Diemont's first book Wanderer, published by Dos Madres Press, is well-crafted and deep. The lines are exquisitely crafted, the language rich and the interlocking themes haunting and resonant.
Written mostly during her experiences in Mexico, these poems evoke a range of feelings and associations, from tenderness to menace, from possiblity to regret, from family to solitude. All are woven into a coherent, unified poetic statement. Her rhymes are subtle and they often surprise with sudden torque.
This is a poem about the celebrated Mexican painter Frida Khalo. It might help to know that Khalo was horribly injured when the bus in which she was riding collided with a trolley.
Ferry a snail-sized barge past a body drowning.
Rope your own neck with thorns or red ribbons.
It's no more surreal or cruel than gods' decision:
Drive a railroad bar through the pelvis,
Alienate the soul from spine, torso from leg, but
Keep the woman beautiful, alive, to paint
Always two interlocking visions.
Harbor them beneath the beat of wings.
Let landscape divide, dark and light.
Open up the earth, don't let it swallow.
One hears the rhymes, the way the meter plays just behind the verse, the richness of the language on the first reading of these poems. On the second reading the deeper poetic realities are evoked, the unity of the structure within the book as the first poem is to a mother, the last poem about a Mexican weaver and the repeated line "tiny gestures multiply." The poem about Frida Khalo is followed by a poem about a bus ride (!) through the mountains of Chiapas and the speakers own injury at the hand of some hard scrabble Mexican kid.
This is poetry of a high order. If you'd like to hear Diemont read, you can check her out on Sat. Nov 20 at the Delevan Gallery. You can purchase her book there or order online at www.Dosmadres.com.
Deborah Diemont has called three countries and five U.S. cities home. She has recently settled in Syracuse, after three years living in San Crist bal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico where she wrote for a bilingual magazine of arts and culture and translated video scripts at the Museum of Mayan Medicine.
Jeff Fudesco is a Syracuse resident.