The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

REVIEW: JOANNA PENN COOPER – WHAT IS A DOMICLE

joanna-penn-cooper-front-cover

 

from “Crown”

In this photograph, I am a girl child.

My thoughts come out in my hands

and my hair. If only I could realize it.

Be just the person I just am.

With What is a Domicile, Joanna Penn Cooper has essentially written the ironic version of “Easy Like Sunday Morning.” Where Lionel sings:

Why in the world
Would anybody put chains on me?
I’ve paid my dues to make it
Everybody wants me to be
What they want me to be
I’m not happy when I try to fake it!

And Cooper responds with:

This year

let your eyes focus

the let them go wild

Eat the air

It’s not the easiest conversation to have – to want to truly understand who you are, see yourself in the child you’ve created, and then tell yourself that not only can you still work follow your hopes and dreams, but like Lionel says, to be “free to know the things I do are right.” Not only can you achieve everything you want, but you can now instill that same type of pride and motivation in the one you’ve birthed. To make sure the next generation not only maintains its individuality, but also remembers from whence it came.

from “Fragments”

I should have said you. About a week before you are born, I see four cardinals. That same week, there is also a visit from an owl-like hawkish thing. Maybe a kestrel. And before that, on a tree out front, four green Brooklyn monk parrots. Parrots! It is auspicious, and I take it to mean that you are part of something larger than just our family. We briefly consider “Monk” as a middle name. But people will think it’s for Thelonious. And besides, I like “John,” which connects you to the lineage after all.

This is such a relaxing collection of poetry. It pulls at readers to ponder that true concept of home – not necessarily in the physical sense. It is existential, and metaphoric, and realist all at the same time. It’s a reminder that this next generation seems off track – roaming without true purpose. That the previous generations spent more time pondering the what surrounded them, rather than constantly losing touch with everything around them.

I am

mourning the twentieth century

Kids these days

know nothing of luminous clock faces

slowly going dark by the twin bed

while a dogwood tree comes on outside

shining the yard bright in one spot

on the loneliest night in the twentieth century.

One of the greatest joys of What is a Domicile, is that it’s written for everyone. It’s written with purpose, and more importantly, with ease. But in the end, Joanna Penn Cooper reminds us that sometimes, you just need to get to the point.

from “April 22nd Poem”

So that’s what mothers do:

Teach human strength and frailty. That impossible confluence.

I’d find a less direct way to say this, but the baby’s awake.

 

Grab your copy of Joanna Penn Cooper’s What is a Domicile (Noctuary Press) at Small Press Distributors. 

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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