Lyndsay Kirkham reviews Kate Schapira’s The Motions (2014) in Broken Pencil #69. Thanks so much! This is actually the first review of Schapira’s second above/ground press chapbook.
The 23 poems of The Motions are untitled, and all sit with a similar stubborn complacency against the edge of the white page. Similar in length and space-taking, these poems, on first glance, are interchangeable, when really, they tell a story when read as a collective tale of home, geography and minutiae.Despite a dedication to the verisimilitude of our lives, big themes waves to the reader when reflecting on the collection as a whole. These themes are then expertly whittled down to sharper points within the smaller and more nuanced pieces. The cohesion of Schapira’s work is one of its greatest features and calls one back inside the interior of these small glimpses of reflection.A reader is invited into the poet’s imagined spaces, to touch the “white comforters of her place” and linger in the crevices between the “local history” and the ephemera of a life-lived. Attention is paid to exacting an image, of creating perfect dioramas within each and every poem that fill The Motions. These precise snapshots are carried and crafted with a precise use of language that is without pretention or pomposity. They are words; they are doing work.Shapira’s collection repeatedly asks questions we are invited to use in disrupting the organized rooms of poetry offered throughout The Motions. It is in the questions – a patterned and obvious motif of the collection – where one detects a quiet but persistent rage; the questions swirl around the rest of the words, filling up the deliberately large white space. Readers feel magically observant, wanting to point toward the slipping mask of the landscapes that come to us as masked quiet and calm. This bubbling disquiet becomes a theme of its own with geographical, political and micro implications.The final poem in the 2014 collection doesn’t sew anything up for readers. The questions haven’t been answered and they are left with you in all their petite and crafted beauty: “I who wait/ on the rock hide my/ gravity, fail to remember/ filling with names. Caught/ as the stems of signs, pickets catch/ and resist”.