Melissa Studdard’s poems are experimental and experienced — a poetry that takes a part of our lives before we put it down to paper, and all the while, becoming our lives. There is an economy in her words that holds well the Science in these poems, alongside the dry humour, wit, sarcasm, also myth and confrontation of certain ‘facts’. Her poems are as much folklore as Science; and as strongly, and seductively, written. — Before getting back here to blog, I read this beautiful collection over three times, and with as much interest.
In a set of eight (VIII) bold, and will-make-you-think kind of, chapters, there’s chapter VII that begins with “When the dream forgets / to end itself, you will know / you are not asleep.” — and though it’s long after you’ve already known how Studdard’s poetry is something almost indispensable even when it is that in the Sci-fi genre, you do not forget to revel in the tone of it.
I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast is a poetry collection that houses a total of thirty-nine poems, which in themselves express a range of feelings from comedy (I Fell in Love with a Double-Yolk Egg) to distress (“So there God lay, with her legs splayed, / birthing this screaming world”, from a poem titled Creation Myth) to lines that express almost everything we, as humans, can imagine — even amazement, alongside the beauty of it: “And because the letter says / I’m coming back to you I fold the night into darkness”, from Painting You into the Scene.
Then, there are many (and almost all of us) who love a poem for the feeling it gives with its simply elegant lines, so apart from the message it endeavours to spread time and again, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast fails no one; it is poetry also for the sake of poetry apart from everything. — “When I lost her, I cried. // […] taming whole / universes with my star-tipped wand.” And when a collection of poems has strength enough to keep taut a vast mass of readers, it is something.
And, also, other than what all I have mentioned about her poems being bold and strict, there’s also a soft corner (or, let’s say, a centre) to it, when she writes a few tributes — where in a poem For Baudelaire, she writes “I will write you a poem, a tribute to your beautiful decay, / to your rotting thighs, to the death you will birth with sex” — a line that talks about death for the beauty of it, and in a charming way. Then, there’s this line that sounds so metaphysical: “to show respect— / leave the dead unburied”; which is why Studdard, in my eyes, becomes indispensable. Even more so when she says “Let these words recall / those things you meant to be before / rage came storming through your town.” The imagery that she builds around words is as desolate, at times, as it is in a way necessary. The fact is she knows what, where, to do!
“I brewed some tea and closed my eyes / while I ate the sun, the air, the rain, / photosynthesis on a plate. / I ate the time it took that chicken / to bear and lay her egg”
— from I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast
And, as the title goes, Studdard serves, also for us, the imaginary cosmos that she’s built with intelligent confidence for breakfast on a little plate.
I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, by Melissa Studdard