Latest Volcano by Tana Jean Welch
Tana Jean Welch’s Latest Volcano is a collection of poems that deal with humanity. Specifically, these poems tackle emotions as opposed to the surface-level situation or experience at hand; these emotions are what keep the reader cheering or agonizing, because the sentiments are too familiar. Welch’s collection contains a feeling of Western reality that terrifies the reader in the best way. From poems that range from a child nonchalantly holding a gun only to be surprised by the arrival of her period to a heterosexual couple that fantasizes about the same sex when climaxing, Welch’s poems reveal a little too much about the various characters of society. This meta-voyeurism—readers observing these lives while simultaneously living them—provides readers with a unified vision of a supposed “varying” society. In layman’s terms, through means of her poems, Welch reminds us all that our secrets are actually universal occurrences.
Perhaps the best part of Welch’s collection is the continuous presence of two emotions—happiness and sorrow—that occur simultaneously within each poem. These polar opposite feelings are why Welch’s writing oozes intensity and suspense, as exemplified in “The Same Wide Feet.” The poem deals with a mother-daughter duo and depicts glimpses into the way the mother raises her daughter. The mother informs her daughter on womanly things such as how much skin to show, what to keep on nightstands (mango and shea butter only), what lingerie to wear, and the urgency to enjoy sex. The reader roots for the mother who instills in her daughter early on about embracing her orgasms; on the other hand, the reader cannot shrug the disappointment felt towards the mother who only teaches her daughter about how to be a successful reproducer. Ironically when the daughter returns all the sexy items her mother gave her—symbolic of the daughter rejecting her mother’s teachings—the reader replaces displeasure towards the mother with pity.
These rapid twists and turns of emotions that exist in “The Same Wide Feet” are what readers can expect in Welch’s poems. Welch’s disposal of emotions prevents her from taking a position on which character she is rooting for. Nevertheless, Welch’s lack of power allows readers to make their own voices be heard in her poetry.
Reviewed by Madhura Nadarajah
$16.00 • 88 pages • Sept. 2016 • ISBN: 978-0-9906669-8-1
Latest Volcano by Tana Jean Welch is
available on Amazon from Marsh Hawk Press
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