Beth Bachmann’s poems in Temper will give you pause. And the pause is what Bachmann writes. In an audio transcript about reading her work aloud as she is writing, she says that she is listening for silence as she revises. Silence is “an incomprehensible experience,” which is a part of the craft of poetry.
Temper is dedicated to and about Bachmann’s sister who was murdered at age 18 when Bachmann was 15. The collection is both memoir and elegy. In this audio transcript about the form of her poem Heaven, Bachmann says that in order to offer a documentary of what happened, she shifts away the usual elegiac attention on the “you” or the “I,” a focus which usually offers commemoration of the life lost or consolation to those remaining. Her technique brings the reader closer to what happened; that is, the event itself. Of course, what happened might not always be clear. In this interview (which begins here) Bachmann notes that the form of poetry allows us, readers and writers, “to remain in a state of interrogation” with respect to what happened.
Have you read Temper or other poems by Beth Bachmann? I welcome your thoughts below in the Comments sections.