Article first published as Book Review: Death of a Man by Marilyn Carr on Blogcritics.
Based solely on page count (thirty-eight pages), writer Marilyn Carr’s new book of poetry – actually, only a single poem is offered for the reader’s consideration - could be described as slight. And one could argue that the poem, ‘Death of a Man,’ which is also the book’s title, is not poetry. Indeed, Carr challenges the reader on the matter in the book’s Foreword: “Have I written prose, poetry or just a little story? You decide. If you relate to this writing, whatever it is, hang tight because one day you will be written out of your sorrow.” I decided after reading the book three times that since, for me, Carr and her book were enigmas, I would simply do as the author suggested and reflect on what she had written on my own terms. From the beginning the book is empowering.
“Death of a Man” is a remembrance and reflection on the loss of a loved one. While not so stated, and despite the standard disclaimer, Carr could have written the piece based on her relationship with her father or stepfather or another man to whom she was very close. In the poem, she speaks to the myriad of emotions that loss brings: pain and suffering; highs and lows; loss and gain, and inspiration and the human spirit. Her inherent sense of humor tempers everything she writes.
Carr’s writing is wonderfully mercurial. She planted the seed in the Foreword, which quickly blossomed in my mind, suggesting that what she had written was at every point, with every passage, poetry, prose and storytelling taking place simultaneously. I concur, and for me, this form created a style that was unpredictable, moving and engaging. It could be mistaken for heartfelt stream of consciousness written in a single moment of time; or, regarded as a meticulously drawn series of emotional word-sketches crafted over the course of a period of time. Whatever the creative circumstances, and despite her diversity of form and unpredictability, her writing is amazingly seamless and tightly woven - more enigma.
Marilyn Carr is quirky and offbeat - by her own admission. “It is said that I walk to the beat of a different drum or maybe a kazoo. If I had not been blessed with an off the wall sense of humor I would have been dead a long time ago.” Carr’s vibrant and robust blending of poetry, prose and storytelling in “Death of a Man” suggests that she is alive and well and ascending to the top of her form as writer. To be sure, one outstanding poem can at best only predict potential notable talent. But “Death of a Man” is an extraordinary piece of work and I hope that we hear more from Marilyn Carr soon.
Death of a Man
Outskirts Press (2011)
Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views (8/12)