The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

REVIEW: Leah Noble Davidson – Poetic Scientifica

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Leah Noble Davidson tells you exactly what she wants you to hear. It’s stark. It’s creative. In ways, it’s incredibly vindictive, and vindicating all at the same time. It’s mostly unique – but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Davidson wants to catch you cheating. She gives you a poetic introduction, and then throws you a curveball, as her table of contents is, in itself, one of the best poems of the entire book. If you’re one to simply skip to where the poems start, you’ll miss it, and you’ll also be incredibly confused as to why the titles of her pieces don’t always make sense. That being said, it’s unfortunate that the titles to her poems don’t always make sense.

Titles are important to verse. They are supposed to set a tone, or give the reader something to which they should cling, but this is a rare happening in her chapbook. The titles line up to make a pretty piece themselves, but are not needed as, well, titles. Mostly.

With that in mind, this is one of the most cunning break-up stories I’ve read in a long time. Whoever Poetic Scientifica was written about (character(s), or otherwise), has caused this narrator a lot of pain and strife, but does not stop the speaker from hunting him down, making him understand what he did, making him pay, and moving on in triumph. This chapbook is for anyone who has ever been in a relationship that has ended poorly.

I need to address my “mostly unique” comment from earlier. Davidson’s piece, “Build,” strikes a very familiar chord. It’s opening line states:

How “Falling in Love” is like moving into a new home: It sucks to do alone.

The poem is well-written, and gives a perfect metaphor; however, it stays a bit too close to Taylor Mali’s “How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog.” Since she does include an “after” in one of her poems (“Way” – After Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”), I question whether or not one should have been left in reference to Mali’s piece for “Build.” Maybe she’d never read his poem. It is possible; however, his piece has made its rounds for the last several years.

Leah Nobel Davidson has a mighty piece of work with Poetic Scientifica, and University of Hell Press should be applauded for publishing such a powerful piece of work.

****UPDATE ON THE REVIEW****

A few pieces from the chapbook:

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About Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin spent more than a decade in Education as a high school English teacher, and is now an Instructional Coach for the Longview School District. He is also the founder of The Poetry Question, an online journal which focuses on reviews of small press poetry publications, and runs a regular series called "The Power of Poetry," where notable poets share their personal stories of how poetry has affected their lives. Margolin resides in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, and daughter.

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