Being Present Personal Spaces
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.”