View From The Lucky Hotel
Five Islands Press, $19.95 pb, 83 pp
There are traces of a constant, oscillating motion of conscience in Sandy Fitts’s poetry. References to the burden of ‘history’ pit the poems, with ‘history’ standing for everything we need to address in the present, through the power of eloquence, but also in fear that such words are not enough. From the opening, prize-winning poem, ‘Waiting for Goya’, to the closing images of ‘Blue Mop’, the act of poetry emerges and is scrutinised for what it might do in the world:
our figures leaning toward each other
to exchange a few uncertain words
about the mop- utility- aesthetics-
Wars, inquisitions and human horror confront the poet, but is poetry sufficient, can ‘poetic diction’ ever really carry the gravitas of change and amelioration in the world?
Another word which emerges again and again in the poems is ‘theory’. It is an odd, slippery word here, often used to mean something like the random thoughts of the poet figure (‘Theories on a Bicycle’), sometimes seeming to signify false consciousness, as in the lines from the prose poem ‘Củ Chi Tunnels’:
We live in a simulacra now, said Baudrillard, there’s no real experience
left. Though stayed home to say it. Noisy clown, he refused to test his theory
on an active battleground.