A Particular Blue
By Michael Warren
A Review by James Tipton
Michael Warren, who is best known to Lakesiders for his theatre reviews in El Ojo del Lago and for occasionally reading some of his well-crafted poems at local poetry venues (and recently at Open Circle), has just published his first collection of poetry…a “first” collection that at the same time is also a “Collected Poems”…titled A Particular Blue.
Michael in A Particular Blue offers us some finely-tuned poems, written over several decades, that demonstrate a deep love of language, and a very admirable competency with sound, image, structure, things which when absent leave us with only a pretense of poetry. When a poet, like Michael, who has worked with sound, image, structure, for most of his life, stands on the shore of his own self and casts his net out over of the world of his experience, he pulls in honest-to-God (and honest-to-Life) poems, more than four-dozen of them in this fine collection.
Some of the most touching are about grief and loneliness, like the lovely final sequence of four sonnets, “Sonnets for Marianne,” which begins, “So sweet, so soft, her final breath/I hardly knew the air had moved--/she gave a sigh, life became death,/flesh became dust, loving loved.” The second sonnet of that series reminds us of the Michael we admire and enjoy—the urbane, thoughtful, reserved, but always well spoken, and often witty:
Sometimes I turn a corner, half expect
to see her there, or think to tell
a joke, an observation, when we next
shall meet—and how she’ll
laugh, how well
appreciate that thought, that pun.
Michael and Marianne moved to Mexico more than ten years ago, and so, as we would expect, Mexico slips softly into some of the poems. Here are the opening two lines of “Jacaranda”: “Purple on powder blue, it’s hard to tell/where jacaranda ends and sky begins”.
Blue is the primary color on this poet’s palette. In the title poem, “A Particular Blue,” Michael realizes that “Few/colours could be so old.” In “You” he sees “fish flying up a hill of blue water,” and in “Sundown” “The sun disappears into a blue hill….”
The poems in A Particular Blue are written by a mature poet, a man who has thought about words for a very long time, and who has adeptly filtered his own life through language, refining it down to some rich and finally indefinable essence that we call poetry.
A Particular Blue is available in Ajijic at Coffee & Bagels, Diane Pearl Gallery, Galería dos Lunas, and Mia’s Boutique.