Marilyn R(uthe) Bowering M. Travis Lane - Essay

M. Travis Lane

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

One of the most useful things poets can do for their art is to invent a speaker who creates in his or her or its point-of-view feelings, flesh, and world—the symbolic values of the poem…. Such poetry tends to be uncommonly strong and illuminating, and we have some fine examples of it in … One Who Became Lost, by Marilyn Bowering.

With the exception of a few excellent poems … ("Café" and "The Monastery of Hosios Louikas"), the best poems in [this book] … are not spoken by a poetic speaker who represents either the average human sensibility or even the average poetic speaker. Instead the speaker is woman-in-nature—a primitive, an animal, a witch, a goddess—some sort of natural, female force. Bowering [has] … an interest in recreating a point-of-view vitally female at the level of dream, totem, and myth. [She is] … rewriting the fairy tales, creating a world view without the dualism that has traditionally split the world into male-positive-aggressive and female-negative-passive. For [her] … nature is not that simply divided; both male and female alike are aggressor and victim, and for them nothing, not even the earth, is passive. (p. 156)

[One Who Became Lost is] a substantial and well-organized book divided into three coherently grouped sections…. Actually Bowering brings us two books, for her title, from the small central section, works also for the untitled first but not at all for the titled third section, Slave-Killers. The title section of One Who Became Lost, set in its center, does suggest for the first section the theme of the search for the original, primitive self and, for the third section, an aspect of what was found in this self. The title poem is a...

(The entire section is 721 words.)