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spacer.gif   POETRY WONDER: MARILYN PERETTI
Posted by : cj on Friday, February 24, 2006 - 02:16 PM
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Chicago Poetry Reviews: Click Headlines .

Let Wings Take You
A Chapbook by Marilyn Peretti
Reviewed by C. J. Laity


In 2000, suburban Chicago poet Marilyn Peretti published a book of poetry called To Love Cranes. The book became so popular that it was carried in the gift shops of various wildlife centers. Having spent years studying the crane, and having also been part of the Arlington Poetry Project, Peretti set out to write another collection on the theme of her favorite subject. This follow-up book of poetry once again touches upon the subject of "preserving earth's ancient winged creatures."

This chapbook contains 27 pages of poetry and original drawings by the poet.

Peretti does a splendid job fleshing out her subject matter:

One leg slowly lifts,
folds to disappear
below the bulge of white feather breast,


(from "Careful Crane")

or

see her satisfied
and bend her high knees forward
to rest snugly in a soft bed
bright red crown above tall grasses
her only giveaway


(from "Red-Crowned Crane Out My Window")

There is a dreamy atmosphere in this book, as mysterious as flight itself:

your snowy chest pumping against iron ribs,
long blade-of-a-beak probing temptation of space,
two wings, wider than a bed, sweeping us over it all?


(from "Cranes to Come")

The crane is honored as royalty among wildlife in this book. There are plenty of odes to the crane, and Peretti also experiments with several formal poetry forms in order to draw her word pictures.

Where arid desert is a thief,
stealing marshes inch by inch,
so regal with her rosy cheeks,
the Black Crowned Crane is hiding.

Stealing marshes inch by inch,
the sultry desert posts: Eviction!
The Black Crowned Crane is hiding,
her royalty in question


(from "Pantoum for the Black Crowned Crane")

or

Tall gray on pink legs,
bright red scarf around her neck
paint a Sarus Crane.


("Haiku I)

My favorite out of the poems is "Learning to Fly", during which Peretti compares the act of swimming to flying. The comparison is done superbly so that we actually get a sense of what it must feel like to be able to fly. Other highlights of the book include the times during which Peretti takes on the first person point of view to become the crane itself:

so I rush
up into swift cold currents
pressing against
a better tide of wind.


(from "A Better Tide of Wind")

It is awesome how Peretti can give such a gigantic sense of the crane's long history on earth within the limited pages of this chapbook:

Like tenacious ancestors
over invisible eons, they return
to gurgling, bugling music


(from "Migration Celeration")

And Peretti takes us to all corners of the earth so that we may glimpse all varieties of the crane in all varieties of ecosystems:

they enter fallow rice paddies,
their heads jerking down,
piercing the mud for something.


(from "Two Alone")

or

like black wet mirrors,
waters soaked with beds of
grasses, shallow, where
tall cranes stand, and sleep.


(from "Marsh Beds")

or

Great loud wings rushed in
over the aching graveground,
their fluttering gray shadows swelling
to hallow this place of burnt grief.


(from Seal of the Sarus Cranes, Ang Trappeing Thmow, Cambodia)

Poetry is a fitting medium to salute this wonder of nature, and Peretti manages to honor this beauty to the point where the crane itself becomes poetry. Her drawings enhance the experience of this book beautifully. I would recommend this book to all lovers of nature poetry.

For information about how to obtain a copy of this chapbook, contact the author at marilynperetti@yahoo.com.

--C. J. Laity

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Note: Here is a review of Marilyn Peretti's chapbook Let Wings Take You.

 
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