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Alessandra Bava

At the Confluence of Beauty and Craft. A Review of Sandra Marchetti's début collection (Sundress Publications, 2015).

I have rarely met a poet who could write with the same painstaking skill with which a Dutch Master painted in the 16th century. No wonder Sandra Marchetti feels a particular disposition for the painting chosen as a cover art of her début collection Confluence (Sundress Publications, 2015). It is a detail a from Still Life with Flowers and Fruit from Jan Van Huysum, but it encapsulate a whole world much like Marchetti's often brief and yet skillfully crafted poems. Her vivid pen is like a brush filling the canvas-page by degrees with a tender palette of pastel and yellows, with birds, «drops of dew, insects, petals.» As the poet claims in her poem "Saints," this is precisely what the Dutch were good at, but it is truly what she herself does best, adding every detail with skill, filtering nature through the convex mirror of her writing, revealing her presence like a myse en abyme. We find, in fact, the very hand that writes, the very hand that "paints," within the poems: «I glaze you,» Marchetti says in "Sur l'herbe," perhaps my favorite poem in this collection. The object of her attention goes through the alchemical change that the poet-painter considers necessary: «Like Manet, / I strain each stroke / of cup and nape / to show I can / then muddle you / towards the boughs to sway / in wilderness already named» (Marchetti, 14). We literally see the poetical power at work, transforming objects and people into words, into art. With Impressionistic flair Marchetti invites us all to her poetical banquet, indeed a déjeuner (luncheon), feeding us with her colors, images and lines, leaving us gleefully replete.

The poetry in Confluence demands visibility, because poems like artworks require an audience, participating spectators, willing to experience the incandescent act of creation. We see river rise, we follow zephyrs, we ride along banks, we wade words to meet «forested skies,» we plunge like geese dissecting the ether. Our senses heightened by the symmetry of alliterations. I felt I had to pause at times so as to allow landscapes and stanzas to envelop me, and finally head towards that confluence of two rivers where Marchetti leads us with such amazing grace, there to meet and acquaint myself with so much flowing Beauty and Craft.

The author cites Elizabeth Bishop and Octavio Paz, and I see reminiscences of Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost in her work, but here we have a poet striving to be her own self, writing poetry to her own terms, speaking to us with her own unique and distinct voice. I suggest wholeheartedly you buy a copy of this collection and get caught in Marchetti's tender coils. Confluence is such a stunner!

➥ Alessandra Bava Bio

➥ Sandra Marchetti Bio