Watery through the gaps – poetry by Emma Blas
The first extraordinary thing to note in this special book of poetry by a poet living in Spain is her absolute commitment to avoiding the use of capital letters. Thus is every word through out this volume of poems given equal value and weight, the beginning is not emphasized, though each piece is neatly stopped. It explores the “depths of emotions” to be found in the elements of the edge between water and land, but also the bodies not only of human beings but creatures of the land. It seeks to convey to the reader the flow of life in those watery zones that we are all familiar with, the tidal, the movement and contrasting solidity of sand, the movement through and alongside the body. It seeks to paint pictures of the solid and the liquid, the way they change and evolve, the variation between bodies and how they move. This is a book of poetry of the elemental, the basic, sometimes elegant, sometimes deliberately shocking. It is both intensely personal and yet also for everyone and everything, holding that contradictory balance in tension. It looks at, according to the author’s own words, the “crossing points between the physical, psychological and imagined states of life” in poetry, a high aspiration for a book which is difficult to define and describe. I was intrigued to have the opportunity to read and review this unusual book.
“salivate” is a poem which runs through with one of the significant motifs of the writing, The tongue. Here it is described in terms of the tongue of dogs, or cats, wet, or dry. “your tongue will be wet until you forget what it is to taste life” the poem asserts. In contrast, in “too big to swallow” the first line observes “I have a fat tongue swelling with a force, until it fills my mouth”. The piece “all those little big things” observes “it is said to be the strongest muscle in the body”. It is an element that genuinely struck me as I read through the poems, aware of the watery theme but also of the more mundane words that linger in the mind and memory.
The use of unusual words, such as “waterrise” stops and challenges thoughts, as this collection goes far beyond descriptions of land and sea, water and air. “the flag-less pole” looks at a flag pole bereft of a flag, or the noise that it would create, yet it is still worthy of watching, of listening “to your song with the sea”.
It is difficult to convey the senses, themes and subjects contained and conveyed by this collection of poems with their diverse references, words and images. The overall impression is of a skillful arrangement of ideas which challenges and confronts, remembers and awakens new interest in the both mundane, and things on the edge of understanding. Most pieces are intense, all are impressive, and all will linger in the mind and memory of anyone encountering this special book.