An often dark and brooding debut, We Give Birth to Light explores love and loss, sickness and death, hope and light. The collection is permeated with Weltschmerz, a sense of melancholy and world-weariness. In poems like "The Poetry of My Final Days," the speaker insists there is "nothing left to be tired of," and, in "The Stain," the speaker realizes not only "what we had lost," but "the / nothing we had gained." In "For a Time," a husband watches his wife die slowly of cancer, while in "We Give Birth to Light," a mother loses a child and a husband. But in the latter poem, the mother does not bemoan the darkness that comes with such loss, knowing that it is necessary if there is going to be light. Born in Nebraska and raised in South Dakota, Carson often alludes to his rural upbringing. In "This is Just How It Is," the speaker's stoic mother raises goats and cuts heads off of chickens, while, in "Unforgiven," a grandfather who "used to love to roam" is imagined "gliding across the plains on a / horse, a lone rider." "Waiting for the Stars to Fall" recalls rural American circa 1950, a time when a kid could buy "Cup-O-Gold" candy at the A&P. Carson, in this collection, nods to his poetic influences. He dedicates "For a Time" to poet John Hoagland and "The Poetry of My Final Days" to Donald Hall, and he explicitly references W.S. Merwin and Mark Strand in "The Poetry of My Final Days" and "The Bookish Light," respectively. Poems from this collection have appeared in Eunoia Review, Rumble Fish Quarterly, Right Hand Pointing, Gyroscope, The Poetry Porch, Oddball Magazine, Dunes Review, BOOG City, Poetry Leaves, Crosswinds, Toho Journal, South Dakota in Poems, Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine, Monday Night, and Color: Story.
Author: Benjamin D. Carson
Download BOOK »