A Review of Nettie Farris’ Communion
In the same vein as William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound, Communion by Nettie Farris (Accents Publishing, 2013) is an exemplary collection of minimalist poetry. I would go so far as to argue that this book is a collection of ultra-minimalist poetry and an excellent one at that. It is not often that minimalist poetry is both well-imagined and well-written, but Ferris’ collection meets both of those criteria in spades. Her poems are loving, playful, thought-provoking, romantic, and comedic, oftentimes utilizing a combination of these emotions in a single poem.
Communion focuses on the story of two individuals who are deeply in love with one another. Some of the poems within the collection could be individually, but readers would miss out on so much if the poems are not read as parts of a whole. Farris allows us to fall in love with her characters as she shares their love with us. What makes this collection different from your standard run-of-the-mill collection of love poems is Farris’ remarkable ingenuity and creativity in the distillation of language; she is able to tell a complex story in very few words.
This distillation of language is what makes the intimacy between n and s all the more real; it is whimsical yet genuine, especially as the little idiosyncrasies of each character are revealed to us as the story moves forward. In the second poem of the collection, “Dumplings,” we find that while n and s both love dumplings, but n prefers large dumplings and s prefers small ones. This is the first time minute differences between the two characters first appear. These differences continue to be revealed throughout the collection. Instead of these distinctions pushing n and s apart, they work to bring them closer together and reveal an honest love between the two.
Another aspect of Farris’ minimalist poetry that adds to the wickedly wonderful eccentricity of the collection is her use of imagery to bring us along for the ride. The concrete, the spiritual, and the emotional are fully fleshed out with her incredible manipulation of language. Whether the reader is swimming in the ocean with n or watching her play tic-tac-toe with s, Farris reveals a deftness of the written word that will inspire anyone who picks up a copy of this collection.
As someone interested in minimalist poetry, I find Farris’ Communion to be a collection that I will read over and over again. There are very few books that I cannot seem to put down for more than a day or two, but the love story of n and s presented in Farris’ collection never stays on its spot on my bookshelf for long before I pull it down and read through it again. If you are a lover of poetry, Communion by Nettie Farris deserves a spot on your “must read” list. If, like me, you appreciate the effort and craftsmanship necessary to create minimalistic poetry that truly touches the heart in very few words, your brand new copy of Nettie Farris’ Communion will be well-worn within the month.
Review by Nick Brush