Lucía Novas- Neve, Snow

Pomades, southern latitudes, vapours, caresses,
The warmth of the weather (and January that opens
Like an October chrysanthemum), perfumed candles,
The torment of incense (water that gurgles
Between nettles and hops), the tea rose in
A metal container, salts
Scattered, abandoned ponds,
Petals in pots (acidity of
Kisses), pores which dilate
And purify the crime, the tranquillity of rice, the water meadow
Of hot springs, bridges in bubbles, comforting soups,
Strong oils, the trembling
Of buttocks, fermented palm
In ginger and in the earth, a breach in the fence, the
Sinuous, contrast of light, the hole that takes in
Treacherous filings, the sponge so warm,
Jellyfish in the placenta, the blurred mirror with steam
Protective cotton, the illusion
Of stones, the worm that devours
The faded orchids, resurrection in self-analysis,
The blessed tragedy, the force that surges
And ennobles the hair, imperfections of
The skin
(and glass transparencies
Reappear), the belly’s expanse,
Smell of terracotta, blossoming of screams
That  defeat pain, kisses’ clay (filth
Of earth
In the vulva
Which opens up), the pubis decked out
With bygone flowers (exquisite garden), bread
So white, the softness of milk, that flower
Of flour, that tremor in the midriff, that circle
That closes.

I am following my desire to read more contemporary women poets with the collection Neve (Snow) by Lucía Novas (A Coruña: Espiral Maior, 2010).  Novas (Bueu, 1979) is a secondary school teacher who has won several poetry prizes and been anthologised in many collections as well as publishing numerous books of her own.

As you can see from this example, which comes from section IV- Balsam, her principle poetic strategy is to make accretive lists of images that roll onwards with the force of an incantation.   She uses all the senses but the visual is primary.  At times the collection is like some of the more hallucinogenic advertisements one sees on the television: I can easily imagine it as a short movie.

There is a trajectory.  It almost becomes a narrative in the section about the hunter, where many of the images come together in their clearest and most violent formulation with repeated conjunctions of white and red: snow, body, marble, salt; roses, blood, sex.  There is something ornate and baroque about the poetry: the poet filling her verse’s space with more and more images like an elaborate carpet design; the images themselves drawn from a collective repertory or image-bank as conventional as the curves on a baroque altarpiece; and then the emphasis on blood, bodies and their fluids like a bleeding statue in its niche.

It is interesting and innovative in the way it refuses to be confined by the parameters of Galician poetry with those canonical preoccupations laid down by Castelao and company.  I find this refreshing.

Following this link you can see the poet explaining her opinion of literary prizes:  Neve won the XIII Johán Carballeira poetry prize.

About Jason Preater

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