Poetry News

Veronica Forrest-Thomson for Valentine's Day 2014

By Harriet Staff


<<- -->> ROSES ARE RED <<-- HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, CUPIDS. --> -->> //CODE RED! <<-- The occasion has inclined us toward broken arrows and Veronica Forrest-Thomson, a poet perhaps more associated with her own intellectual journey than with the "topic" of "love"--though there was the recent publication by Chicago Review (56:2/3) that contains (among other essays) a "microscopic reading" of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's "Death-in-Love." And Suzanne Raitt, writing about Forrest-Thomson and scholar Alison Mark for Jacket 20, hits on an oft-limitation within a greater compassion, so we're posting it.

There is a tension in the poetry between the establishment of an autonomous art in which it is not meaning but being which is at stake, and a persistent nostalgia for an impossible relationship between the world and the word: the poetry derives much of its effect by catching the reader in that contradiction. In the same way love is seen in pseudo-Lacanian terms as both a linguistic conceit, and the inscription of an inescapable longing. In the words of the final stanzas of ‘Sonnet’:

If I say ‘I love you’ we can’t but laugh
Since irony knows what we’ll say.
If I try to free myself by my craft
You vary as night from day.

So, accept the wish for the deed my dear.
Words were made to prevent us near.

Mark notes that Forrest-Thomson saw poetry as a strategy of interruption, impeding the rush from words to world...and ‘Sonnet’ suggests that it is not just poetry, but also love that interrupts our thoughtless relationships with language and the world.


Originally Published: February 14th, 2014