Oyster Boy Review 13  
  Summer 2001
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'Illume' by Andrea Rosenberg

Jeffery Beam

Occasionally a first book comes across my desk which surprises by its maturity and creativity. Illume, a self-published, handsomely handmade limited edition book-length prose poem, details through a detached, melancholy, and gentle manner an obsessive observation of personal psychological states through symbolic notations of the real:

Some mornings I feel the world's rotation when I wake up. I lie back on my pillow and feel its slow movement under my bed. It's a strange, soothing vertigo that fills me these mornings, the noise of cars and of the street echoing and revolving, muffled and remote, miles away from my open window. When I sit up, the room spins wildly, and then everything settles down to its usual immobility.

Reminiscent of the poetic fictions of Anaïs Nin and Jeanette Winterson, Rosenberg's youthful, self-absorption is "fascinated by change and its exhilaration and disregard for consequence. It is a wild freedom from the future, a violent break with the past. It is active." Her excavations pour vinegar into sweet musings of the heart, troubling the loss of love and friendship, grieving a beloved brother's dying of AIDS, combating personal guilt, celebrating joy and dreams, and confronting an unfeeling father. Familiarly strange, rising up like thoughts, the episodes range from home to abroad, from interior landscapes to the Sistine Chapel. Only occasionally overly sentimental, they are always sincere and appropriately earnest.

Rosenberg's skill rests in a courage to face her darkest thoughts and resist easy answers:

Rain is falling, and running down the windows like tears. I resent such easy pathetic fallacies, but I find they are practically instinctive. And those wavy wet lines, uncertain as unraveled yarn or bleeding ink, look to me like mirror images of the ones on my own face.