Among the notable observations I have made during recent trips…
Like a CSI television drama, Find the Girl captures our full attention. The poems deal with the death of and lurking danger to girls and young women.
Author, Lightsey Darst's verses urge the reader to tap into the days of innocence when running through fields was brave exploration and lips were stained red by Kool-Aid, not beauty products. Here words seem to proclaim 'we are not too fragile to survive' as they give hope and warning, simultaneously.
Find the girl in time and she doesn't
wind up in the newspaper with her feet
Photographed bare sticking out from under
a rhododendron bush.
It's real, the bad men who know already
where they would hide the body crouch
In shrubs under her bedroom window
while she talks on the phone.”
Fairy-tale prose blends vivid botanical images with not-so-happy endings. Darst pulls from ancient mythology, children's characters like Gretel and Snow White, and alludes to culturally significant events like the Jon Benet murder and Jack the Ripper to create verses as potent as a poisoned apple. Her contemporary poetry is a string of descriptive narrative told through the eyes of a coroner, or the victim. Some pieces don't feel quite complete and many have a gleaned-from-TV quality, but together they convey a powerful theme.
You will be someone's tragic summer, lovesick
moan as the screen door slams again and June bugs
strike it with confused ardor.”
Darst's writing may make us feel uncomfortable because it taps into the emotions of danger, sexual assault, and murder. Whether or not it exploits the horrors of these brutal events is for each reader to decide. What it does is bring issues a lot closer than a missing person's billboard or a picture on the back of a milk carton, and that is a rare skill. Find the Girl is empowering in a brutal way. Read it and you will find the pages turning, as if on their own volition.
Upcoming Lightsey Darst Events
7 p.m. Wednesday, March 25
Coffman Union Theater: 300 Washington Avenue Southeast Minneapolis, MN
with Laura Flynn, Peter Bognanni, Michael Medrano, and Michael Walsh
7.p.m. Wednesday, April 14
Bryant-Lake Bowl: 810 West Lake Street Minneapolis, MN
Launch party for Find the Girl
7:30 p.m. Friday, April 30
Normandale Community College: 9700 France Avenue South Bloomington, MN
As part of the Great Twin Cities Poetry Read