A recent Miramar review is calling Fleda Brown’s No Need of Sympathy “ambitious … the work of a mature and retrospective poet.” In No Need of Sympathy, Brown concerns herself with poetry’s current position in the cultural landscape. She rounds off the collection with a sequence of conventional, personal
If a poet can be said to have a thesis, Brown's would be in her collection’s second poem, "The Purpose of Poetry." According to reviewer Elizabeth Dodd, poetry is “perhaps in a bit of a mid-career crisis, surprised by the many challenges and changes time keeps working on us.” But for all the admonishing of lazy habits—including a penchant for dreamy, navel-gazing questions—the book is considerably upbeat.
According to Dodd, No Need of Sympathy does not argue whether or not poetics is hobbled (Brown herself actually writes that poetry—the poem—is going “to try singing again”). In spite of its focus, and form (an aesthetic which works through the very medium it critiques and evaluates), the book retains the common qualities that mark Brown’s works: her associative power, and consequent gift for resolution.
Featuring “Walmart, Heraclitus, child workers in Vietnamese garment sweatshops, and the concepts of heaven and hell reassembled in a summer picnic: throughout this fine book, Brown sweeps a seine net through what might seem like only loosely-schooling facts of the world, but through each poem’s intelligent movement and construction, the vibrant connections emerge.”
Brown makes it seem as though poetry is coming back to this “music of accretion,” encouraging us to return to what has appeared to be barren grounds. She engages in “re-examining form: rhyming quatrains; unrhymed couplets; a single unfolding, enjambed sentence; sonnets rhymed and unrhymed; tercets; the dropped lines of prose paragraphs.” It's “the making of that music—accumulative and reflective—that is the connective essence of Brown’s eighth collection of poetry.” It is Brown's insistence on what has been abandoned, and what can be salvaged from it.
In spite of the qualms Brown has about the tropes of contemporary poems, the patterns they comply with, and the ruts they've been falling into, these aren't enough to cripple the art. According to Dodd, they couldn't be: “Brown’s work insists that the poetry of the earth—that is to say, poetry itself—is ceasing never.”
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No Need of Sympathy is available for purchase at the BOA Bookstore.
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