Thursday, June 16, 2011

Grady Harp Reviews Memento Mori

MEMENTO MORI
A Cache of Fireflies and Other Joys

'Memento mori' is another term for still life which is another way of describing observed carefully arranged items worth remembering, Memento mori is a particularly apt title for this collection of poems and paintings by the sisters Snell. Cheryl Snell, the writer poet, combines her sparkling little observations of life and ordinary things such as childhood reveries and mental notes of things/incidents/people she has observed and transformed into poem form: Janet Snell, the visual poet, continues to create aqueous paintings of expressionistic nature that pull the eye into worlds of fantasy and illusion. Part of the joy of the collaboration of the two artists is that they resist the temptation to 'illustrate' each other. That would be the expected result in a collaboration - one artist has an idea and the other elaborates on it.

Not so with MEMENTO MORI. Opposite Janet's wonderful little painting 'Gorkyesque' Cheryl places 'Poem with Bugs":
First they appear as paths
of dying stars, sparks arcing across
the old oaks. Imagine the presence
of bats whickering, the field full
of rushing shadows. The ghost of your father
is closer now, coming toward you
without grief or regrets. no one is to blame.

In the backyard of your childhood home,
upraised branches bloom with wings.
Someone else's little sister cups fireflies
in the indigo moments before bed, tossing
them into the empty spaces you must turn from
before the dusk backs into what it was -
failing light and fading voices,
a vast goodbye, the shimmering dark.

Across from Janet's painting 'Narcissism' is Cheryl's wonderful 'She paints herself into a corner.' And as the book flows - a feast for the eye and a recalled pleasure of reading memorable poetry. An Excellent book, this!

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