Creative Guy Publishing / March 2009
Reviewed by: Martel Sardina
Lucy Snyder’s poetry collection, Chimeric Machines, gets better with every reading. The first pass hits hard. Snyder’s images are stark and disturbing at times, leaving readers devastated by a shared experience of profound pain. Subsequent readings are filled with the joy of discovering the subtlety of her writing style — rhythm and meter, the nuances of Snyder’s word choices, and the way she imprints images in her readers’ minds.
In “And There in the Machine, Virginia Finally Stood Up,” Snyder shows readers one woman’s descent into madness. Throughout her life, Virginia’s accomplishments have been diminished for a myriad of reasons ranging from her gender to her family’s lack of wealth. Nothing she’s done is ever “good enough.” After a lifetime of being beaten down, Virginia finally decides to take matters into her own hands.
The most heart-wrenching poem in the collection is “Babel’s Children,” which Snyder dedicated to the late author/editor, J.N. Williamson. This piece documents a reality that most would care not to see. An author’s estranged sons attend his funeral. Afterward, they destroy their father’s most prized possession. Then they sell his book collection at the local used bookstore. The clerk at the bookstore is happy to find treasures like signed first editions among the items the brothers no longer want. The brothers’ disdain for their father is shown in the final stanza:
Meanwhile, a drunk crematory stiff
dumped the author’s unclaimed ash
However, there is still humor to be found in the darkness. Snyder made this reviewer chuckle more than once. In “Gigantic,” Snyder reveals the unfairness of women’s magazines. Why are they chocked full of delicious desert recipes, yet these treats are only meant to be cooked, not eaten? In “Book Smarts,” Snyder gives readers an alternate use for all those books that are lying around the house.
From the dreamy and fantastic to the bleak and disturbing, Chimeric Machines contains something for everyone in terms of content and style. While readers may not like every piece the first time through, this reviewer challenges you to read Snyder’s work more than once. Find the deeper meaning, and get lost in the landscape that Snyder’s created. You won’t regret it.
Purchase Chimeric Machines by Lucy A. Snyder.