Once More with Feeling by Tina Cane, ff. Tina’s collection of poems, grounded in New York and family, reflects the welter of feelings engendered by the city and her particular parents . A group of poems called SIRENS depicts the poet’s childhood on the gritty streets of the East Village where sirens are not the tantalizing maidens of the Odyssey, but rather the sounds of emergencies particularly after crimes of violence. In one poem, her parents fight for fifty hours straight; in another, when the cops come and decide to leave her at home despite her parents' dramatic clash, she doesn’t object. “we worked with what we had and they let us.”
I was drawn to the poems called nocturnes. They take place in what she calls mezzo: a place between wakefulness and sleep. In the one which bears the title of the collection, Once More with Feeling, she muses about identity. “if not love what am I a shape eating sandwiches in a motel.” The final poem, Trip to Now, brings her through Europe and back to New York. We glimpse the poignancy of her father’s final illness, and the emergence of her marriage and children. But mostly we see her put words to fragments of memory, in order to relive events from a time when she was numb. This time, though, her emotions are exposed.
I lost touch with Tina when I retired and was so happy to learn that she is now living in Rhode Island and has been named Poet Laureate of that state!