Monday, 7 May 2007

Lou Ann Shepard Muhm

A couple of weeks back, I promised a little more on LouAnn Shepard Muhm's Dear Immovable, the chapbook I recived in the recent Poetry Superhighway Great Poetry Exchange.
As I said at the time, I like her best when she's writing in a really stripped-down, spare style, and there are really very few poems in the book carrying any excess weight. Here's one I liked a lot:


The eagle flew
with me as I drove,
long enough to show
its tail's yellowing edge.

As I touched the brake
to prolong the moment
it curved away,
like anything

Dead simple, only of course it's not. I like the minimalism - it seems to suit the wide-open spaces of the Mid West and Great Plains, where all this is set (Muhm is from Minnesota), and it helps build one of the book's themes, that anything worth having is likely to be hard-won.
There are also, as I mentioned before, both highly personal moments and humour in there, but she resists the temptation to overdo either, and the result is a collection that hangs together well, with a glimpsed rather than spelt-out back story.
Here's another poem, which pulls a few of those things together.


My mother's name is Hester,
as was her mother's,
and her mother's mother's.

I asked her once
why she didn't carry
the tradition through
and she answered,
"I wouldn't do that to you."

I was grateful.

Surely, I would have been teased,
as she was,
though not for the same reasons.
I mean,
nobody really reads anymore.

But here I am
in the back of this pickup truck with you,
fulfilling my destiny

All good stuff. I haven't got the chapbook details to hand just now, but I'll add them tomorrow - it's a book that's well worth a look and a fiver.


Miss Sophia. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LouAnn Muhm said...

Hi Matt-- Thanks for the great review! I'm still surprised when people understand and appreciate my work, so thanks for that. BTW, that deleted comment was from one of my students, who thought she was commenting to me. I've ordered your chapbook, and anxiously await its arrival.