Who is Afraid of Joy? Anne Carson and Leslie McGrath’s New Collections.

The newness of Anne Carson cannot cease—every book of hers envisions humankind distinctly. It is for this same reason Plainwater is fresh. Anne Carson has successfully archived with this collection of essays and poems an ocean of surprises.

Divided into five (5) parts: Mimnermos: The Brainsex Paintings, Short Talks, Canicula di Anna, The Life of Towns, and, The Anthropology of Water; Plainwater expands the force and grace of creative writing beyond the categorization of verse or prose, beyond texts and contexts, beyond two-dimensional spheres.

From the fifth part, the Anthropology of Water:

“Water is something you cannot hold. Like men. I have tried. Father, brother, lover, true friends, hungry ghosts and God, one by one all took themselves out of my hands.” (p. 117)

“We live by waters breaking out of the heart.” (p. 138)

“Water abandons itself.” (p. 156)

A line that strikes me: “Love makes you an anthropologist of your own life.” (p. 217)

Leslie McGrath’s Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage is for lovers of bread, lovers of juices, currants, for chocoholics, for milk lovers, for meat lovers, for potato lovers, for vegetarians, for foodies generally, for lovers generally. Don’t we all eat? Don’t we all love?

Hunger: “No rose or ocean or homemade bread captures it completely” (p. 6). This is simply a perfect description of my belly. One keeps eating, one is always hungry. It is no mere metaphor, this picture; it’s the truth. It is the human experience, our needs and wants: pain, pleasure, destiny, death and life. We fall short in trying to measure it, we call it mystery; we wonder; we embody it; feel it, fill it.

“I am the cake. / I do not fear the knife.” (p. 26). And I ask: who is afraid of joy?

I melt in front of poems: moans, tears, depth, connection, empathy. The poem, ‘For My Daughter on the Death of Her New Love,’ is a sweet accomplishment of Matthew 5:4 which says, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” The poet here boldly offers words, vibes of comfort to the bereaved, as opposed to all superficiality. A friend dies, a sister, a brother, our loved ones die, and it leaves us feeling empty but filled with grief.

Leslie uses honey in her poetics in the exact essences honey is used for the body, for healing and love processes. With the poems in Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage, Leslie has written a bible for us all. Get a copy.