Review by Sydney Norton
Carla Sarett’s She Has Visions (Main Street Rag, 2022) is a beautiful collection of poems that alerts the reader’s attention to what Sarett is struggling with or finds interesting. Her poems have varying lengths, names, and meanings, but it’s obvious they all come from a place of wanting to share experiences and knowledge while dealing with grief over the death of her husband. The theme of mourning and loss is evident throughout her collection.
The first poem that stood out to me in Sarett’s collection was “Goodbye fugue” because of the emotions conveyed. The amount of sorrow the speaker feels towards the loss of the brother is immense and Sarett does a wonderful job displaying it.
But that was a lifetime ago, and
at my brother’s funeral, I delivered his eulogy,
or that is what people say.
This penultimate stanza is eerily powerful in showing the reader the effects that death has on people. The speaker is unsure if she really spoke at her brother’s funeral, because time appears to move differently once someone has passed. The theme of sorrow is heavily highlighted through the speaker’s uncertainty of events that expresses their feelings over this loss.
Sarett does a wonderful job at breaking up the “heavier” poems throughout her collection. I personally found this to be very comforting knowing that the author didn’t want readers to feel stuck in the heavy turmoil of death. In some of the previous collections I have read, the author did not break the themes up in this way and reading their work caused long stretches of sharing that difficult space with the author. I really appreciate how Sarett has various themes throughout her collection, and how the main theme of sorrow is never lost or compressed.
In “Silent Thanks”, the speaker mentions the passing of their husband and readers gain insight into what life looks like for the speaker now.
We talk about The Searchers.
That final shot, mostly,
John Wayne, alone
This third stanza discusses the speaker talking to someone who gave them a grief card and how this movie is connected to the death of their husband. The connection of metaphors to the loss of the speaker’s husband is seamless. This movie is mentioned as a way to remind the speaker of their loss and to invite the reader into the life that someone lives having lost a significant other. The penultimate and last stanza of this poem are very powerful in showcasing what happens to the speaker once they recall their loss.
And I get to say
I almost say loves.
I catch myself.
These last two stanzas pack quite the punch for the reader in realizing the everyday challenges in learning to overcome grief and loss. The speaker was having a lighthearted moment with another when they realize that their husband has passed and all of his emotions are now past tense. The ending of this poem painfully invites the reader into the rest of the poems in Sarett’s collection, drawing them into the whirlwind of life that the speaker lives.
Sarett’s dedication to breaking up grief and other topics reels the readers even deeper into the sorrow by having the speaker’s voices vary. When the poems are focused on grief, the speaker’s voice is sharp but blurry. There is a focus to the poem but the speaker’s thoughts appear to be short and less refined. When the poems are focused on other topics or themes, the speaker’s voice appears to be more present. I think that Sarett’s ability to refine the speaker’s voice to further convey themes in different poems makes her collection truly beautiful.