- Kind: Perfectbound
- Pages: 126
- Language: English
- Published: September, 2014
- ISBN: 978-1-939929-13-6
In John Anson’s TIME PIECES, time, manifest in nature’s seasons, the workings of the human body, and the very elements of poetry, is the force that governs our lives (“Clocks”). We are invited to think about double time vision (“Janus”), the nebulous shifts of the semiconscious mind (“Dawn and Dream”), and the intertwining of seasonal and weather changes with our moods and feelings (“Leafdrift”). The emotional core of this collection is the desire to keep a beloved child, now dead, present: your brief flame / I watch it now ascending to invoke / the love I felt and feel, the loss like smoke, / a pool of wax, the echo of your name (“A Candle for Hester”), as well as to honor a long, loving marriage (“The Parting,” “Behind our Steps”).
These poems are written in exquisitely crafted traditional poetic forms, sonnets, villanelles and ballades, which reveal the reflective and obsessive qualities of memory itself. Descriptions of paintings by Claesz, de Poorter, Linard, and others are so detailed that their works almost appear before our eyes. Nine remarkable poems are revealing portraits of women artists, from Sophronisba Anguissola to Alice Neel: And in the bright rear window on display / beside a chest, your easel seems to say: / “My coffer’s wealth lies in my artistry” (“Lavinia Fontana”) and You said the closest that you ever came / to a self-portrait was an empty chair / beside a window (“Alice Neel”).
This volume also includes probably the first translation of The City of the Waters by the French symbolist, neoclassical poet, Henri de Régnier. His book is a series of elegiac sonnets commemorating the gardens of Versailles, abandoned throughout the 19th century to decay and oblivion, a fitting supplement to TIME PIECES. —NANCY KASSELL
You offered your fiancé’s family
a portrait of you. Richly dressed, you play
the spinet, but your face is turned our way;
behind in shadow, score upon her knee,
your servant sits, head leaned attentively.
And in the bright rear window on display
beside a chest, your easel seems to say:
“My coffer’s wealth lies in my artistry.”
It did. Years later, cast in bronze and lead,
medallions in your honor show your head
in profile, double-chinned, deep-lined and coiffed.
But on the back, Painting leans from her seat,
a girl at work, hair swept with joy aloft,
her brush in hand and brushes at her feet.
John Anson was born in 1936 in San Francisco. He attended UC Berkeley where he earned his B.A. in English and classics, his M.A. in classics, and his Ph.D. in English. Subsequently, he taught there in the English Department from 1965 to 1991. Since then he has worked as a psychologist, first as a therapist and currently as an expert witness testifying in habeas corpus hearings held for involuntarily hospitalized patients. In the seventies and eighties, he regularly published his own poetry in a number of small literary magazines including Poetry (Chicago), The Threepenny Review and Arizona Quarterly, and Robert Barth issued a chapbook of his sonnets, A Family Album. In 2013, Dos Madres Press published his translation of Les Trophées by José-Maria de Heredia.