Emblem by Lucy Mercer
It can: / do nothing / become a flower / interleave or wait self-enclosed / die and disappear…
Lucy Mercer‘s poems have been published widely in magazines and anthologies. She was awarded the inaugural White Review Poet’s Prize. She recently completed a PhD in which she developed a speculative theory of emblems, and also teaches creative writing at Goldsmiths.
Emblem takes an obscure, hybrid form of combining motto (inscripto), picture (pictura) and text (scriptio) into a form that emerged during the beginnings of the early modern period (1450-1800) and weaves it together with contemporary motherhood, faith and existence. It sounds a lot, and it is… except, for me at least, there are moments of true empathy and comprehension. The visual is a strong part of what I am, and it calls to me from this book with remarkable clarity.
Lessons from the Text
Lucy is an incredibly capable writer and poet, and this collection is woven from a maturity and strength that transcends what can sometimes seem at distance as inaccessible and complex. From the economical brilliance of Single Mothers Study Metaphysics to the dense, sparkling yet reassuring prose of Notation as Memory, woodcut imagery doesn’t just hold these works together, it serves as signposts and markers into a deep and lyrically dense landscape.
There are a couple of collections I have earmarked for more reflective study and consideration once Sealey is over, and this is the first one on the pile. It deserves to be treated as a manual, instructional and educational or a text book to how the mundanity of ordinary life can be transformed with the correct mindset to an almost otherworldly experience. I am ready and willing to be educated.
As a mother of two whose early memories of those days seem a lifetime away from what I read here, there is still connection to be found. The voice that is calling me back to the text, and that I am compelled to follow, promises enlightenment on how poetry is a language of recipes: we may all use the same ingredients, but the end products can be staggeringly different. Emblem is the reminder that my plain tastes undoubtedly could use more flavour and complexity.
Will you read it again? Yes, and then I’ll read it again, and then I can only hope my brain will be inspired enough to use it as a basis for my own poetic experimentation.
Would you recommend it for me to read? I’ve read this now twice, cover to cover, and I’m still no closer to really having a handle on the depths within. This may not be for you as a result, but it ABSOLUTELY is for me.
Buy Emblem at the Prototype Press Shop
What are your Fave Poems?
Open for the imagery
Chimera for the inference
Single Mother for the impact
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