cover image Songs & Ballads

Songs & Ballads

Lindsay Turner. Prelude, $15.95 trade paper (74p) ISBN 978-0-9907030-3-7

Turner dazzles in a debut of postmodern arrangements that challenge contemporary poetry’s relative lack of overt song-like structure. She sings of the unnoticed or the decidedly ugly; for example, there are songs of “household goods,” “insurance,” and “towns.” In “Risk Management Song,” she writes, “so we commissioned a document/ about sustenance and the city’s pores/ metaphors of food and skin/ for when the water rises.” Over the subsequent five quatrains, Turner varies the closing refrain until she ends where she started: “for when the water rises// gathered all of us around// glossy invulnerable tables/ to hear and judge a list of songs/ the agents recognize.” Many, though not all, of the poems possesses troubadour-friendly qualities, as in “Museum Song,” where Turner writes of “a marbled corridor of acts/ and party scenes and draperies/ the pebbles painted in the stream/ are muttering in Greek.” If at times passion feels suppressed or a plot can’t be unpuzzled, readers may nonetheless be moved by Turner’s play with repetition and rhyme in ways that defy feeling saccharine: “The aging system means a race/ to profit from abandoned space/ while leaving it abandoned space/ since forces don’t abandon space/ although it looks abandoned.” Turner just might inspire some readers to sing. (June)