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Between Silence & Sound by ProQuest

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A poem for Ponsot is an obj ect of sight and of sound, of thoughts and of feelings, a created field of interacting language and themes, composed of various voices and tones of voice. Ponsot requires that we pay the closest attention to every level of language in a poem: syllables, words, lines, sentences, spacing on the page, punctuation, meter, rhyme, syntax.

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									                                                                                                                                             books


                  Lawrence Joseph

                  Between	Silence	&	Sound
                  Easy
                  Marie Ponsot
                  Alfred A. Knopf, $26, 82 pp.




                  T
                          he poet Marie Ponsot has always
                          written at the top of her talent,
                          which is at the top of the art.
                  From the outset, she has imagined the
                  making of a poem in its fullest sense. A
                  poem for Ponsot is an object of sight and
                  of sound, of thoughts and of feelings, a
                  created field of interacting language and
                  themes, composed of various voices and
                  tones of voice. Ponsot requires that we
                  pay the closest attention to every level of
                  language in a poem: syllables, words, lines,
                  sentences, spacing on the page, punctua-
                  tion, meter, rhyme, syntax. The payoffs—
                  depths of meaning that endlessly surprise,
                  instruct, and delight—are stunning.
                     Born in New York City in 1921, the
                  poet graduated from St. Joseph’s College
                  for Women in Brooklyn and Columbia
                  University, where she received a master’s
                  degree in seventeenth-century English lit-
                  erature. After World War II, she lived for
                  three years in Paris, where she married the    New and Selected Poems (2002). When             includes every one of us, living as we do
                  French painter Claude Ponsot. Returning        Admit Impediment appeared, much was             between being silent and speaking, be-
                  to New York, she worked as a translator        made of the fact that Ponsot hadn’t pub-        tween realities both good and bad. But,
                  and freelance writer of radio and televi-      lished a second book until she was almost       of course, “we” also includes the poet,
                  sion scripts, while raising seven children     sixty, but Ponsot has never stopped writ-       who, now in her eighties, has spent well
                  on her own. She taught until she was sev-      ing poems. It was just that during the late     over fifty years “making light” of darkness
                  enty-two at Queens College, where she is       1950s and through the ’60s and ’70s, per-       (whatever its source) by making poems.
                                                                                                                                                               Commonweal . December 18, 2009
                  now professor emerita of English.              sonal circumstances demanded that she           The theme is picked up again in “This
                     Easy is Ponsot’s sixth book of poems        take herself out of a literary world in which   Bridge, Like Poetry, Is Vertigo.” William
                  (several of its poems originally appeared      poets, almost exclusively affiliated with ac-   Blake is quoted in an epigram: “In a time
                  in these pages). Ponsot’s first book, True     ademic institutions and creative-writing        of death bring forth number, weight &
                  Minds, was published in 1957 by Law-           programs, wrote and published books of          measure.” A cloud is described, driven by
                  rence Ferlinghetti in the City Lights Pock-    poems every two or three years.                 wind “between earth and space. Cloud
                  et Poets Series, which, a year earlier, had       By the second poem in Easy, “If I Live,      / shields earth from sun-scorch. Cloud /
                  published Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other      Stones Hear,” Ponsot has brought us to          bursts to cure earth’s thirst.” The cloud,
                  Poems. Ponsot’s second book, Admit Imped-      her new book’s vision. “Between silence         “airy, wet, photogenic,” is “a bridge or
                  iment, was published more than two de-         and sound / we are balancing darkness,          go-between,” which (like poetry) “does
scott hightower




                  cades later in 1981 by Knopf. That book        / making light of it,” she writes, releas-      as it is done by.” Or, as Ponsot writes in
                  was followed by The Green Dark (1988),         ing through her language (within three          “Skeptic,” changing her metaphor from
                  The Bird Catcher (1998), and Springing:        lines!) several meanings. “We,” of course,      a cloud to the sea:


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                                 Commonweal’s                              Language thinks us. Myth or mouth
                                                   
								
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