To Day – Margo Fuchs-Knill

Photo: Jade Moore

Published April 1st 2004 by EGS Press
Full title: To Day: Poems & Poetics
Author: Margo Fuchs-Knill
Genre: poetry, poetics
Pages: 95
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Opening line:

Remembrance cries
out –
your place, no place, one place – remains

Goodreads synopsis:

At once subtle, luxurious, inquisitive, and philosophic, Margo Fuchs-Knill offers her poetry and thoughts on the makings of poetics in these writings–all in her distinctive Swiss-American pitch. Her poetic voice weaves its singsong way through topics as wide-ranging as nature, political views, imagination, spiritual musings, and love with the strongest thematic thread on the nature of time and how people choose to live in it, through it, and despite it. Also explored is her philosophical take on the how and why of poetry, -answering such questions as “Is poetry peaceful? “and” Is the writing of poetry an act of peace?”

My review

I found this book while perusing the shelves in the library at uni. I’d never heard of the author or the book, but I saw that it was a book of poetry and thought I’d give it a go.

This is not so much a book of poetry as book that celebrates poetry. The poems are inspired by traditional poetic subjects such as the natural world, life, thoughts and how we spend our time.

Once you’ve read the poems, the second half offers you essay-like paragraphs that explore what poetry means, and what its significance is to life and politics.

The sentiment and ideas behind the words you read are clearly inspired by the thought of being able to express ourselves through the written word, and explore life through poetry. They are an observation, the free and imaginative thoughts of the author on the page. They make the most of the poetic form, and play with it.

“Poetry connects the
never-ending selfish story of daily life
to a pearl row
moving the horizon to a further place

to learn the alphabet from another view.”

Some of the poems consist of as little as three lines and 10 words, with no title. This is almost like the modern poetry we are seeing more and more today, yet I feel the wording and observations of this collection are a lot more poetic and nuanced than the more modern short-form poems seen in other collections such as milk and honey and we carry the sky.

The poems evolve as the book goes on. They gain titles and more stanzas. They are more in depth and carry a lot more weight in terms of the subjects they explore and the words use to express them.

Subjects include: Nelson Mandela/oppression; loneliness; poetry; time/days; nature/seasons; life and death.

Photo: Jade Moore

The poems speak to one another through their titles and their progression, which creates a kind of discourse on life through the poetic form, until you reach part two: Poetry as an act of peace: an outlook from the unthinkable.

Here, hard subjects such as war and terrorism are discussed in terms of how poetry contributes to the idea of achieving peace from all the terrible destruction. She sets out her stall, explains her thoughts rationally, and offers us poetry in favour of what she is saying. Political poetry that contributes to a familiar discourse in the media.

It is worth remembering that this was published in 2004, and written before that. So the references to war and terrorism aren’t necessarily born from the terrorism we face today, but what we faced at the beginning of the millennium. However, the ideas and thoughts presented in this book still hold relevance today.

“Poetry helps to distance us from words that speak to us and through us, from poisoned language; it lifts us out from routine linguistic habits.”

The book then begins to read more like an exploration and analysis of poetry in a more academic (but still creative) way. For the readers who also happen to be poets, this section will appeal to you, and be a welcome ending to a book that is in itself a celebration of poetry. It offers us thoughts and ideas, craft, observations, opinions…and leaves us thinking about poetry differently to when we first opened the book.

Link to the book on Goodreads: To Day: Poems & Poetics


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