Monday, March 30, 2009

Book/Magazine Review: Fortune's Lover: A Book of Tarot Poems by Rachel Pollack

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free, bite-sized book/magazine reviews.
Just as you'd expect from the subtitle, Fortune's Lover is a poetry collection with a tarot theme, each poem (save for one) named after one of the major arcana. While the book might have a central thesis, the poems are actually quite diverse. "Emperor" and "Hanged Man" for example have a narrative structure attached to them while "Tarot Pi" is best performed out loud. Then there are the poems in between, such as "World" which conjures images and showcases the power of names, or "High Priestess" which has a certain beat.

Another element going for Rachel Pollack is that she often takes the indirect route with her poems as she is less literal in her usage the major arcana. "Empress" for example draws upon Jewish lore and if you're looking for an actual woman in the poem, you'll be disappointed. Instead, what we get is this metaphor that feels quite apt by the time we reach the end and there's this reader interaction between title and content.

Pollack is also quite accessible as her poems could be read on the literal level and it'll still work, whether as simple stories or verse with rhythm. What I liked about Fortune's Lover is that it's relatively short and can be read in one sitting without distorting the impact of the various poems. The value of re-reading and pondering their alternate meanings is still there but this is relatively light and is neither overwhelming nor intimidating.

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