Book Report: A Bend In The Road edited by Mary A. Shaugnessy (1982)

Book coverAs you might know, gentle reader, I consume a lot of what I call “Grandma Poetry.” These are usually chapbooks published by older women with themes of family and God; the authors are not professional poets and probably don’t even have a magazine credit on their copyright pages. Most of it is not sublime or exhilirating; some of it is nice. If you read the collected works of a Great Poet, you’ll find their works are limited to the really, really good once in a while and maybe nice most of the time.

This collects presumably the best poems and some artwork from residents in nursing homes owned by Beverly Enterprises. So the tone and shape of the poems varies. Some are about youth, some are about being your best self in a nursing home, but more than one are about being lonely and forgotten–even if it’s only in the subtext of a poem lauding volunteers who come to visit.

So it’s uneven and lacks a single voice, and some are poems by committee–classes where several people put a poem together. You can actually tell these poems apart from others as they lack internal consistency and voice.

Man, I remember nursing homes in the 1980s. Two of my sainted mother’s aunts ended up in a couple of different facilities, and the facilities were as cold and efficient as hospitals but with less care. It depressed me to go visit those old ladies–I was young then, and impatient. Times have changed now, though; one local senior living facility has been running ads showing a tatted up, goateed and mohawked pierced grandpa with big headphones on taking a selfie. One expects the new facilities are more fun, but then again, the ones that advertise in 417 are probably the nicer ones anyway; one would probably find my relations in more traditional centers.

At any rate, something to flip through during a football game, but not something to emulate in one’s own poetizing.

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