Maria Keene offers up lyrical poems and prints in her new book
Maria Keene’s chapbook Being Present Personal Spaces is a collection of poems and prints from the award-winning Delaware poet and artist that offer meditations on joy, pain, family, and nature, with accompanying prints enhancing and amplifying Keen’s vision. Stylistically, Keene relies on sensuous lyric and centers her verse on the page, as opposed to left or right alignment, and employs a border, recalling Victorian era mass editions of Fairy Tales, or 20th Century nostalgic reprints of Children’s Verse, a choice that accentuates Keene’s voice.
Keene’s diction at times, is sensuous and mythic, evoking the Romantic tradition. Consider, “Moon Phase”
Prefers to hide
Your far side
There are secrets
Like the moon,
Whose orbit deceives
I prefer to indulge
With musings of you
Or in “Moving Along” where “Someone waves and beckons/for seed to crust the earth/ a jeweled wheel keeps time alive”. Throughout Spaces Keene’s eye and ear are bent towards whimsy and awe, but Keene also employs elegy throughout the collection, which waxes and wanes in cycles.
Keene understands that loss, sudden emptiness, is a transformative experience, a theme Keene tackles later in the collection. Grief is as much a physical experience as it is an emotional one. “In Memoriam” begins, “Absecene is a hard task//I need to find a new way of walking/without shedding skin”, a tone that echoes in “The Respite.”
Spaces is a work of love, in its latter half, the book emerges out of loss and into hope, which in Spaces case, manifests itself as children, or youth; rebirth. In “Garden Space”, gardening becomes a mystic Christian ritual and Keene ends with “I am buoyant”, an emotional tone that resonates throughout the final poems as Spaces comes to a close.
The prints that accompany the poems resonate thematically, and Keene’s evocative prints both recall and imitate water colors liquid warmth, the pressure of the plate acting like a watercolor brush, and the ink, like watercolor paint fading and pooling with its own mind.
Stephen Scott Whitaker is the managing editor of The Broadkill Review. His poems have appeared in Oxford Poetry, Fourteen Hills, Crab Creek Review, among others. His novel of weird fiction, Mulch, is forthcoming from Montag Press.