In Sunshine Days Becky Alexander presents to us through her poetry a view of memory somewhat different from the way we usually consider the past. So often when we try to remember a time gone before, we tend to symbolize it with the familiar concept of old photographs preserved in an album, perhaps faded a little and not as bright and sharp as we would like. And each photo, each rectangular piece of the past, sits surrounded by its own blank space, set apart as if disconnected from the continuous flow of time.
Alexander’s longer poem calls for a different way to look at our common past. Here we find no neat and self-contained pictures from an album, even though all the images ring with shared experience. The purpose of her poem may be the same as others recalling memories, but the method used to shape that recall is different.
The poem seems fragmented, consists of incomplete sentences and unconnected subordinate clauses, but this is also its strength. Our memories do not exist in neat packages. These fragments we perceive are not pieces of a broken glass or mirror. They do not have the sting of sharp edges. The perception here is much more like a jigsaw puzzle: though the pieces seem random and scrambled, they do come, with a little effort, smoothly together.
And when we carefully join them together, matching colours and protrusions, images and parts of sentences, what emerges is a complete and colourful picture, the one we remember so well from the cover of the box that holds the pieces Becky Alexander has put together.
Jeff Seffinga - poet, Editor-in-Chief, Tower Poetry Society
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