Perry Nicholas reviews On the Other Side of the Glass, the latest poetry collection from Marianne Szlyk.
Melodies, then silence, move throughout Marianne Szlyk’s new poetry collection, On the Other Side of the Window. Sound carries us through her changing life, all four seasons, the future, present, and past “so many years ago as music played from transistor radios.” What makes her poetry even more intriguing is not only her purposeful syllabic count but also her effective use of the silences in between.
After we are drawn in by the likes of the Beatles, Beach Boys, a jazz harpist, and wind chimes, the poet steps back and “catches her breath.” She observes her surroundings closely, creates lasting images with her rhythms, then leaves us quietly reflecting on “all that grows in the space between”, whether that be artwork, relationships, or hair colours.
In an August 2018 radio interview on Quintessential Listening, Marianne read poems from her new book in her “teacher voice”, as opposed to her conversational one, both of which are paced and full of inflection. It is impossible to listen to her poetry without anticipating the narrative and getting caught up in the rhythm of the song-like lines.
The poems in On the Other Side of the Window take us on a journey from environmental to nature to persona, all linked together by music. “She imagined that she was changing/going someplace different from where she had been.” While I had never read Marianne Szlyk’s work, I can’t wait to hear where she travels next. After all, memorable poetry like hers leaves us humming, reflective, then changed.
On the Other Side of the Window is available now from Pski’s Porch Publishing.
Perry S. Nicholas is an English Professor at Erie Community College North in Buffalo, N.Y. He has published one textbook of poetry prompts, three full-length and five chapbooks of original poetry, and one CD of poetry. He has hosted four poetry venues in the WNY area. You can see his work at perrynicholas.com.
Perry has judged the Just Buffalo poetry contest, the national Poetry Out Loud competition, and has been guest lecturer at Villa Maria College, Niagara Community College, Buffalo State College, and New York College in Athens, Greece.