October 2008

Michelle Blackley


Cloisters by Kristin Bock

There is nothing medieval about Kristin Bock’s latest collection of poetry in Cloisters. Her prose weaves through the months and seasons, starting with October and presenting a raw voice of images that encompass nature, love and overall human existence.

A crisp New England setting is undeniable in “A Bedtime Story.” A predator’s voice is vocalized through the hunter stalking a young doe, but as the hunted escapes we soon see her point of view. As she frolics downstream she thinks about the man and his family around the dinner table -- venison is missing from the meal, of course.

The rebirth that accompanies springtime comes to be in April. Before, Bock reminds us that as the Earth freezes it also plans for new life. In “Before Poetry” she paints a watercolor of images, but leaves it at that with:

      There was a time when flowers of the field were flowers of the field and did not       fall from the wandering mouths of strangers.

The author, however, does not focus on sun and soil entirely. In an animalistic sense she exhibits sexuality that is almost hidden from a man we never get to meet. This transfer is jagged and makes a leap from season-to-season or sections of the book.

As we approach summer, she begins occupying an ominous place. Bock writes through desperation and lust in the poem “While You Were Away.” Finding a mannequin with messy hair and lipstick she becomes attracted to her and exhibits parts of her own body. Is this her alter ego? Who is she apologizing to for embarking on what could have been a fantasy or act of desperation?

A winner of the Tupelo Press First Book Award, Bock is a young poet with 38 poems that are arriving on the shelves just in time for the fall, during which the first poem “On Reflection” takes place. Although it isn’t explained why she skips some months, the writing it consistent, tight, and lyrical, marked by concise language, each word carries emotional weight.

It’s possible the book could have been broken up into two, one being nature and the other relationships and love; but Bock makes a true attempt in showing they are interconnected.

Cloisters by Kristin Bock
Tupelo Press
ISBN: 978-1-932195-55-2
69 Pages