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The Antigone Poems by Marie Slaight
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The Antigone Poems

by Marie Slaight

Other authors: Terrence Tasker (Illustrator)

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English (49)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (52)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
We live our lives
The instant between life and death
To touch death always,
That is the sun.


First I read the book straight through. Then, I decided to read up on Antigone and learned that she was the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta. Then, I read the poems to see if I could read into them the tragic life of Antigone. I can't say I did, but still some of the poems are really beautiful and poignant while others didn't stir the same emotion for me.

Marie Slaight wrote these poems in the 70s and artist Terrance Tasker has contributed with drawings. It’s a thing book, only around 90 pages and every poem has its own page, and I love the paper in this book. Just the feeling of turning the pages and feeling the thick paper between your fingers actually makes the reading experience a bit better. The drawings weren’t really my cup of tea and I have to admit that the front cover of the book isn’t something I find appealing. But I still find the book really nice to browse and many of the poems are intriguing

...gods speak to the wind and winds whip through me...

It’s a lovely book, and if you get a chance to read it; take it!

3.5 stars

I received this copy from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review! ( )
  MaraBlaise | Dec 14, 2017 |
*ARC provided for honest review*

The Antigone Poems trace a delicate anatomy of desire and loss. The images and text complement each other and drive towards an understanding of the divine. Intended as a retelling of Sophocles’ tragedy, this collection has a delicate subtlety that may, in fact be too subtle. While it is clear from the title that these are designed as a retelling, there are no clear parallels to draw between the work of Sophocles and this collaboration.

The artifact itself is beautiful, gorgeously printed on lovely paper. That said, every single page is blank on the back, with no clear indication of why, and without enforcing or engaging with the text, art, or overall poetics.

There is also a single moment in the text that completely pulled me out of the narrative. Feeling at best like authorial intrusion, and at worst like a confessional, this moment is an entire page of narrative prose in a text otherwise full of minimal free verse dripping with a clean lyricism. It was this, more than anything else that brought this book from 4 stars down to 3. ( )
  Cassmet | Oct 19, 2015 |
Inspired by the classic story of Antigone, this stark collection of poetry is both an homage to a story of rebellion and an original exploration of a woman's fiery outrage.

Beautifully bound, holding this slender volume -- 104 pages -- is a treat, and the spare layout gives room to the explosive language Slaight uses.Written between 1972 - 1981, the pieces have a kind of '70s Second-wave feminist feel, but I don't mean that badly. This is the kind of stuff I cut my teeth on in college: violent, unabashed, pagan and passionate. I was reminded of Margaret Atwood, Barbara Walker, and Sharon Olds.

Whether one is familiar with the story of Antigone or not, the poems are easy to understand and appreciate. Slaight's "heroine" is by turns angry, quiet, and resigned, and the brevity only emphasizes the punch of her sentiments.

In this grey dawn
Only
The debauched loneliness
Of your thigh
Flung
Across mine

My favorite piece has to be the closing, in which our heroine declares: "I wanted everything./To live all lives, all deaths, encompass all women." I can empathize with that enormous, dramatic sentiment; the mundane end to that poem is positively bittersweet.

The pieces are punctuated throughout by illustrations from Terrence Tasker. I don't know if they were intentionally created to pair with Slaight's pieces or if Slaight and Tasker decided simply to pair the two, but the haunting images are perfect. They give me the sense of Greek theater, further connecting Slaight's heroine to Antigone.

A lovely, dramatic volume for fans of poetry and those who enjoy classics, as well as anyone who enjoys feminist lit and poetry. ( )
  unabridgedchick | May 4, 2015 |
Certain stories are timeless, and they can be reshaped in many ways, without losing their essence, such is the story of Antigone. First introduced to the world as a heroine by Sophocles, she now re-emerges in "The Antigone Poems" of Marie Slaight. However, the heroine of this volume is not one woman, but all.

This volume’s cover is haunting through the intensity of its simplicity. Before we read Slaight’s poems, we see Terrence Tasker’s work, to whom this volume is actually dedicated. Tasker’s charcoal drawings close each of the five chapters of the book and their raw quality matches that of the poems. Even if there aren’t that many drawings, they leave their imprint not just on the pages, but on your memory as well. The beauty in Terrence Tasker’s drawings lies in his ability to allow and almost unnoticeably push the viewer to project their own images over his. The images I saw were filled with pain, desolation, and silent despair.

Also, the format of the book is very well thought out since it becomes a tool to control the reader. The empty page which faithfully follows each poem forces us to reflect - even if only fractions of a second – more on what we have just experienced. It dictates the tempo of Marie Slaight’s song.

Her words align themselves obediently to the rhythm of some foreign tribal drums. It’s not so much the words themselves, but how they are put to use that empowers these poems. Their order seems unnatural at first, but each time you read them, they speak to you more. Also, many unexpected associations challenge the reader’s imagination “like scattered dynamite/dissembled power/shattered glass”. There are certain words that recur almost obsessively (blood, daemon, sun) which haunt Antigone through her journey. But the beat that overshadows all the other instruments is the fusion of pleasure and pain. It is this fragile string which interweaves both of these contrasting emotions that ties all the poems together. There is a voluptuousness about pain, and a distress in pleasure that Marie Slaight is not afraid to explore.

Although the female spirit seems to be dominating throughout "The Antigone Poems", the feelings these speak of transcend the rigid barriers of gender. Universal themes like love, passion, pain, lust, loneliness are combined in a unique way through a strong imagery. The poet makes use of all our senses to perceive inner states in a more organic way. So, we come to smell the odor/see the colors/hear the melody/sense the warmth/taste the flavor of Her emotions. ( )
  Timea_Barabas | Nov 15, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book was beautify illustrated with a series of charcoal drawings adding to the poetic ascetic. The poems themselves were vague but emotive, though a good classical education would be helpful (indeed necessary) to understand them fully. Overall an interesting volume of poetry. ( )
  ftpfarragher | Jul 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Slaight, Marieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tasker, TerrenceIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
And sing

My bitter praises...

To nails

And flint

And flesh...
Dedication
DEDICATED TO TERRENCE TASKER
1947-1992
First words
In my skull (all)

The hungry cawing.

Fire

In tormented call.

In my heart (only)

The last flutter.

Anguish

In whispered song.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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