Austen Leah Rose, an astonishing and original young poet from Los Angeles, finds mythologies in the everyday, mythologies that many of us miss and desperately need. She is a master of escape and exile, taking the reader to unusual, desperate, yet fun places, while she artfully “suspends disbelief.” Flourishing marvelous details, her poems are intimate without being sentimental, as she often creates feminist myths that thrive within the disjunction of time and place. The key to this imagination lies in one of her poems rightfully entitled “The New World”: “The reorganization that must take place when a thing that was no longer is.” —Wow! One recalls the metamorphosis of certain insects in the pupal phase. A bold and courageous poet, she’s not afraid to toss a TV or strip mall into a Renaissance world.
I met Shakespeare in a hotel room downtown.
There was a lamp on by the bed and the radio was playing.
Shakespeare was wearing a gold watch and a velvet sash; it was clear
he had a taste for beautiful things.
He sat in a chair and let me talk and I told him about television and strip malls,
how I have the same blue eyes
as my mother. Why do we inherit what hurts us? I asked,
but he didn’t answer.
I went to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror.
I imagined what it would be like to be a woman living four hundred years
in the future who was imagining
what it would be like to be a woman living four hundred years in the past.
I washed my hands. I reentered the room.
Outside, the night was a bucket with a hole in the bottom,
the darkness kept spilling out.
Shakespeare, I said, sometimes when I’m sad, I don’t feel anything at all.
He put his hand on my shoulder.
He was a tactful man. Very good, he said and was gone.