The Witches of Lila Spring
I love poetry chapbooks. I love the tight, concise format, and I am especially drawn to themed chaps. Sabrina Ito currently lives in Honolulu, Hawaii where she works as a high school Languages teacher. Ito’s chap consists of sixteen persona poems about fictional women. Her similes are unique, and they heighten and move the poems forward. The settings range from the Cotswold Inn, where “wiggle-eyed girls/tug glances into corners,” to the French Quarter, where “spanish moss drips/ like long wisps of dry honey.” “Jackson Square” opens with this incredible line: At night, it lights up like a poem.
And indeed it does! I’ve spent a great deal of time in New Orleans, and this line is spot-on in capturing the allure of Jackson Square.
Although fictional, the women are all marginalized, voices that aren’t often heard. In “Delilah’s” the reader follows a commercial sex worker. The poem is in five sections, each spanning a page, brief lines with strong imagery, a life painted with words:
Behind the velour curtained booth,
nearly bare, gold –sprinkled breasts
heave and gleam
Each vignette is evocative, making it easy for the reader to visualize the scenario. While narrative in nature, these poems are lyrical, a delight to read. I appreciate Ito’s skill with language more each time I read through her work.
The title poem, about persecuted women in a fictional town, closes the chapbook:
for all around, night is collapsing
with shy, silvery laughter
and wolf howls.
Nina Bennett is the author the books Sound Effects, Mixed Tape, and The House of Yearning, published by Kelsay Books last fall. It is available on Amazon. She is featured on the Broken Turtle Booklist.