Monday, August 1, 2016

PRAU by JEAN VENGUA

CHRIS MANSEL Reviews

Prau by Jean Vengua
(Meritage Press, San Francisco & St. Helena, CA, 2007)


I suppose we could begin with a poem entitled "Home." Ms. Vengua writes: “The movement we call/ regression   to slip/ back  find  in sleep/ or erasure  solace/ yet/ the rooms of/ memory.” The reason I say I suppose we could begin here is that anywhere you open to a page in Prau you will find elegant writing. These memories often find you opening up your own. In the poem “Amanueensis”, Ms. Vengua writes:
“eventually you think why not make friends with your own demons. / wash and bathe them, hang them out to dry, and they will accompany you out into the day even to work where in a room full of workers, and pouring over a thousand tests, you struggle to stay awake; a demon can be your amanuensis; you can explain to it over and over how things will be and why you should be and it will always listen.”
What a poem of such hope and rationality. Oh, and if you are wondering ,according to Dictionary.com the definition of amanuensis is “a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another; secretary.” Imagine how much better your life would be if you had a secretary to help with the business and inner thoughts of your life. Ms. Vengua writes, “Wash and bathe them, hang them out to dry.” In my mind she is expounding on the clich√© of “washing away your troubles” or “your troubles go out in the wash.” Perhaps without even knowing.

There is a poem included here that expresses so many things. It’s a short poem, but long or short, the writer can grab you and sometimes change your life. The poem I am speaking of is “Burn.” It begins, “skin. All moments/ inescapable.” Just think of that landscape, that sensuality, horror. In a lifetime you can experience every human emotion but hopefully not. In just a few words a writer can spark the same experience that happened to Proust, though I believe that example is a bit strained. Ms. Vengua continues: “wanting to write on and on addicted to substance to the imaginary.” That’s a broad landscape when you draw the line between substance and imaginary but I believe you can. When you read poetry/fiction you can begin to see a world where both can coincide. That is what you have in this delightful book. And as I said earlier you will find elegance here.


*****

Chris Mansel  is a writer, filmmaker, epileptic, musician, photographer and a permanent outsider for some reason. He is the author of While in Exile: The Savage Tale of Walter Seems, Soddoma: The Cantos of Ulysses, Ashes of Thoreau, Interviews and two books of photography entitled, No Burden and Ahisma. Along with Jake Berry, he formed the band Impermanence who have released one album, Arito. He releases music under the name dilapidation Impromptu who have released four albums and have just released a new CD, The Strange White Odor of Octaves Becoming Animals. His writing has been published on the web in many sources. Recently he has been writing book reviews for Galatea Resurrects.


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