As with journalism, poetry often rewards those with an angle. Got something new, different? Or are you the same old skylark, Grecian urn, and daffodils; the same old mended wall, spidery design, and woods-you-think-you-know?
In her chapbook, Reservoir (winner of the 2017 Yemassee Journal Chapbook Contest), Taneum Bambrick assembles 17 poems. Only they’re not your ordinary poems. Rather they got the jump on any competition by detailing the experiences of a young woman working a traditional “man’s” job.
And an unusual job it was — working out in the wilderness, picking up the neglected, the dead, and the unwanted. Stuff. Junk. Carcasses. Then trying to act nonplussed as it is heaved into the back of a pick-up or a thick bag or the landfills of memory.
What is life like with a garbage crew, then? For a taste, you can visit The Nashville Review for a look-see at the poem, “Litter.” Lots of alliteration. And imagery that reeks wonderfully off the page (screen, what have you). Forceful stuff.
In “Visitor’s Center,” notice Bambrick’s attention to detail and devotion to the exact words associated with a hatchery pond: “sturgeon,” “shoal,” “Coho,” “upper-tail lobes,” “bone plates,” “scutes,” “barbels.”
Something’s fishy all right. And the chapbook manuscript’s chances were lifted not only by the requisite talent in poetry but by the novelty in both topic and approach.
So if you aren’t familiar enough with something unique to write about, you can certainly approach it from a direction (upwind, I suggest) seldom taken. It might just land you a “Who, me?” win.
Congratulations to Taneum Bambrick, and continued well wishes to poets everywhere exploring the hidden angles of life.