Saturday, January 29, 2011

Turtles All the Way Down

Day 355, and I've been reading Turtles All the Way Down, by Kathryn Kerr, a poetry chapbook.  We did a local reading together, with Tim Hunt, as all of us have our chapbooks with Finishing Line Press, but hers was still in the pre-order phase then, and now it's here.  So I've done my fast read of all the poems, and now will savor them more slowly, one by one, feeling the sun on my shell and the mud between my toes.

Wait!  I'm not really a turtle, and neither is she.  But this is a fun book in which the speaker is somehow both a middle-aged woman and a turtle...who listens to Janis Joplin.

Turtle Listens to Janis Joplin

She feels music through mud
mostly covering her closed shell.
She's perfectly still hearing Janis wail
through an extended "Ball and Chain."

With "Turtle Blues"
she seems not to move
but inside her horny shell
her unarticulated pelvis sways.

Yes, she's a horny middle-aged woman!  And indeed "horny" works validly both ways because Kathryn studied biology as well as English, and knows, deeply, the ways of the turtle!

Because of the similarity of our names and occupations (I used to be an English teacher, too), Kathryn and I are sometimes confused with one another around town...OK, sometimes I'm horny, fine...and she used to think I was, like her, also a divorced mom raising two kids.

"I have a husband,"I said.  This was at AWP one of the years it was in Chicago.  It was the first time we'd really had a chance to sit down and get to know one another.

"What does he do?"

"He's an artist, and he does home repair."

"I have a home that needs repair."

The conversation really did go something like that!  My husband then really did repair the home of this horny woman...sigh...and we all survived!  (Kathryn has a sense of humor, as you will see in her poems, so I think she will forgive me all of this.)

So if Finishing Line Press has a table at AWP this year, pick up a copy of Turtles All the Way Down, by Kathyrn Kerr!  Plus Redneck Yoga, by Tim Hunt.  Plus Living on the Earth, by me!!


Marcoantonio Arellano (Nene) said...

LOL! Great sense of humor Kathleen. I now have a 'real' human perspective of you. One who has those same human foibles as I and not just a blog avatar.

My wife is always complaining about how I'm always wanting to repair things at home. Does this mean that I'm much like the turtle whose '...unarticulated pelvis sways' are never sated?

Always love your witty perspective.

JulieK said...

Kathryn Kerr's Turtle poems were lovely in performances. The humor and wisdom and even the crankiness were very engaging.

Her Turtles All the Way Down title reminded me of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series (I have no idea how many books are in this series. Maybe 25-ish?) where the world is a flat plane that sits on the backs of four elephants who themselves are on the back of a humungous turtle slowly swimming his way across the galaxy. Or something like that. I guess there's something universal and relatable in turtles, and she's tapped into that with her poems where the Turtle is a woman who drives a car and wears sandals and listens to Joplin.

seana graham said...

I bet there is an actual woman named Turtle who is exactly like that and lives in Santa Cruz. In fact, there may be more than one...

Collagemama said...

Funny to find your turtle report. After a visit with Dad and a dull training seminar I took a mental health hike and counted turtles sunning on logs this afternoon. Now I've got to dig out my Janis cd for some swaying pelvii.

Kathleen said...

Seana, I know a local woman named Frog!

Pelvii! You are a woman after my own heart, Collagemama!

seana graham said...

Although in Santa Cruz, I realized it would probably be the Native American or Spanish name.