Paper Oranges

Paper Oranges

A review of Paper Oranges by Carolyn Marie Souaid

Published on April 1, 2009

Paper Oranges
Carolyn Marie Souaid

Signature Editions

Carolyn Souaid also confronts a bleak world, but she feels the times are out of joint for metaphysical reasons, though she is aware of global warming and war in the Middle East. The book is an homage to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, but also an alternative to its hopelessness. We do not, the poems ultimately imply, require Godot, a saviour, or messenger from the beyond, to underwrite our uneasy existence. The first two sections of the book, “The Weight” and “Inertia,” deal with melancholy (think of Dürer’s brooding angel). The narrator longs for a creative breakthrough, the power to create an original image: “some beautiful impossibility: like the paper oranges of the title. Elements of hope emerge, as in “Dada Landscape,” where “one word, / Arcadia, will get you in.” In “My Tahiti,” at the end of the “Inertia” section, the emotionally blocked protagonist contemplates a choice: to take a plane, real or imagined, waiting on a runway. In the final section, “Flight,” the speaker paradoxically escapes, not to a fantasy world in the South Seas, but to what might be called a normal life, one of love, joy, suffering, and death. As Freud observed, when we free ourselves of neurosis, we still have to deal with ordinary human suffering. The strength of Souaid’s writing is her ability to convey intense emotions in imagery and metaphor: her book, for all its allusions to Waiting for Godot and its careful structure, has the power of lyric poetry, which can in fact produce beautiful impossibilities, especially when her avowed mottoes are “Be Bold” (quoted from P.K. Page) and “La beauté sera CONVULSIVE ou ne sera pas” (André Breton). Her last words in the book are: “Read my lips. / Today I saw my heart on a billboard.” Not on a sleeve, a billboard. Such boldness is far from the passive desperation of Waiting for Godot, where the book began. mRb

Bert Almon lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Retired from teaching, he follows the careers of his former students.



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