By Sara Ries Dziekonski
Main Street Rag
In Marrying Maracuyá, Sara Ries Dziekonski travels with her husband to Colombia and falls in love with its people, its land, and its spirit. What begins in icy Buffalo, and ends in Florida is a poet’s sojourn into a new culture, a new country, a new life. Dziekonski’s passion for Bogotá and for travel and adventure shine brightly in this prize-winning chapbook from Main Street Rag Press.
Dziekonski’s poems are rooted in partnership. Throughout Maracuyá, the speaker of the poems addresses her husband and traveling companion, Thaddeus, who shadows many of the poems. Marriage is the central motif of Maracuyá, though not necessarily marriage to another person, but also to place, and a people, and a moment in time, and to poetry, as well. The titular passion fruit is also a central image, as are smiles. Dziekonski’s warmth and passion for the people she encounters come through, though her love for her partner is a central focus, albeit one that is often simply a piece of the emotional background, rather than the focus. Readers will get a sense of Thaddeus as he appears throughout the collection.
Colombia is only one of several places Dziekonski captures, though it is the most dominant. Dziekonski does not employ bilingual poesy, per se, instead, these poems are under the influence of Bogotá, and these measures of sound and image and breath reflect that influence, best exemplified in “Candelaria in Bogotá “, a poem that slides along on assonance and alliterative flourishes. “Te quiero, te amo, I love you,/with your skinny streets lined with charcoal smudges of exhaust…” a litany of wonder and delight among the candle-cupped streets. “Candelaria” captures that special feeling of both loss and joy, a poem that is both celebration and prayer for a world eaten up with hate. America, I’m looking in your direction, and so is Dziekonski.
Structurally, the poems in the chapbook mostly employ nonce stanza forms as the primary organizer of content; very few stanzas are enjambed, an appropriate measure for a poetry collection about travel, for streets, grids, and airways, all wield rigid paths to keep people moving, and Dziekonski’s poesy accomplishes this as she “serves words” to her students in Bogotá.
Largely, Maracuyá focuses on how the speaker came become joined to a new country and a new culture, and a new language, a new home, one that can be carried in poetry, and in the heart. Marrying Maracuyá was the winner of the 2020 Cathy Smith Bowers Chapbook Contest.
Stephen Scott Whitaker's writing has appeared in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, Oxford Poetry, Crab Creek Review, and The Shore, among other journals. Whitaker is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.