Friday, February 27, 2015

WINGMAKERS

I think I was prepared to receive a new book of poetry that deals with mythological and heavenly creatures through a visit to my friend, Betty Leblanc, yesterday. When we visit, we often sit on a sun porch filled with objects of art that include gnomes, fairies, and otherworld creatures, and I always feel as though I'm entering a cosmic realm that lifts me out of any doldrums I might have experienced before I crossed Betty's threshold.

So I wasn't surprised when I came home yesterday and found a form of "cosmic writing" contained in a new book of poetry published by my friends and editors Gary Entsminger and Susan Elliott of Pinyon Publishing in Montrose, Colorado. In the dedication to Wingmakers, poet Britny Cordera salutes Euterpe, the muse of lyrical poetry, and her imaginative poems will fascinate readers who enjoy Greek mythology, particularly myths symbolized by Urania, the muse of astronomy whom Christian followers often associate with the Holy Spirit. Greek mythological creatures are also illuminated by the illustrations of David H. L.Burton, a student of graphic arts and digital illustration who works in New York City.

The lead poem in Wingmakers, "Urania The Stargazer," sets the tone for this cosmic writing with the opening lines:"With dewish wand, I point/to the unborn words of wind-/driven ballerinas./I knew their stories before/my star-dotted lyre gave flight/to the fledged songbirds and carrions..." Readers feel that they're about to enter a world of heavenly heights typified by such poets as John Milton, who is said to have invoked the muse Urania for the writing of Paradise Lost, although he adds the caveat that it is the meaning and not the name he called upon to inspire him.

I was drawn to the poem about one of the creatures of the air—the butterfly—in which Cordera captures a "Butterfly's Nightmare." She alludes to the frailty of human existence through the butterfly's eyes, cautioning "...The dew/should/have told/you to tend/your weak laurels,/but now your satin arms cannot/carry you through salt-/less sky...You/learned/that M-/shaped insects,/buzzing in the brain,/live two moons before they live on/in memories."

Cordera's descriptions of plants and creatures combine earthbound lines with lofty lyrics that raise thought to the heights attained by Greek poets—even the lowly tumbleweed gets graceful press in "Tumbleweed," a poem in the section entitled "Southern Skies." As I once lived in Electra, Texas and viewed the action of many of these dismal-looking plants tumbling about, these lines by Cordera evoked strong memories of the west Texas plains: "Wind feeds your fate—/you cling to unclipped/wings and hurried feet/who claim home/to the many-faced moon,/for she knows/no winter--knows no/solitary among vocal stars..."

In the final section of Wingmakers, Cordera narrates the voice of owls, doves, dragons, birds that "in the seraphic forests guarding spoken word—/[are]written only on palms,/planets, and pupils of your ancient,/doubled ladders. They rest/upon shoulders of old cosmogony./This is your peephole/to the map/of constellations." She connects birds with varying cultures—those of Ancient Greece, the North American Indian, Aztec, and others, attributing their characteristics to the religion and culture; e.g., "Pavo the Peacock" who is described as having a "cape of blue eyes to see greater knowledge" and who, in Christianity, symbolizes all-seeing and rebirth. "As a mirror of Phoenix, you also represented resurrection, renewal, and immortality, for you gained new and more beautiful feathers every year. You guard divine secrets as heaven's vault."

I was also pleased to see that one of my favorite birds, the crow, or "Corvus the Raven," was praised as being "wiser than the old owl, you, Raven, hold the heaviest burdens and laurels upon your fragile wing, of any creature with beak and feathers." Cordera also refers to this bird as "the thief of light" who dropped the fragile box given to him by his grandfather and made the light break into fragments, which gave rise to an era of stars, moon, and the sun.

This volume of poetry, a lyrical recreation of the cosmos in celestial and earthly form, will delight those who appreciate the heights to which Urania can lift human thought and spirit when invoked by an author who understands the mythology of ancient times and the constellations of the heavens. Fantastical poetry and art in eighty-seven pages of "wingmaking."

Britny Cordera is a student of creative writing and religion at the University of Nebraska in Omaha. She has published in 13th Floor literary magazine and the international publication Forget Me Not. She also writes impromptu poems on a typewriter while sitting in Omaha's Old Market district and is known as the "Old Market Poet."


Available at Pinyon Publishing, 23847 V66 Trail, Montrose, Colorado 81403.
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