By: Lucy Harvest Clarke
Publisher: Blart Books
“Baba” takes a cynical look at the cycle of life. Lucy Harvest Clarke mirrors the complexities of life, with the unusual ways that she uses words. She often places words into sentences where they don’t make sense. This challenges the reader to translate these new meanings and connotations, of what are usually familiar words.
Sometimes the words are spat out, like they are the product of a child, or a stroke victim. In this manner, Harvest Clarke allows the reader to interpret her words, depending on their personal context, in the very moment that they are reading the poem.
The title of the book is ‘Baba’, a word (if taken in its original context) often used to affectionately describe a baby. This foreshadows the theme of how children interpret the world, which can be found throughout the book. Even the size of the book, as a tiny paperback, reflects these childish aspects.
For such a small book it is packed with information, themes and voices. So although it is small, it is also powerfully full of potential: like a baby. Yet, the title also has a hint of something more sinister, like the doll babies that are found in horror films. These dolls often cry out childish phrases such as the word ‘Baba’. That is my interpretation at least, and Harvest Clarke does leave a lot up to interpretation.
However, this capability for interpretation is not to say that her poems are weak, or unassuming. Instead their ambiguous nature is the source of their strength. They force the reader to think about things that they wouldn’t usually consider. The poems also take you into a new and vulnerable point of view; through the several confused voices that Harvest Clarke uses. It is a stuttering look at the world, one that constantly appeals to the reader’s sense of mystery, by allowing them to fill in the gaps. This brings surreality into everyday occurrences.
“Baba the unend of everything but” is the first chapter title and line, of the collection. It suggests the themes that Harvest Clarke later explores. Such as how children and the very elderly share various traits, like the inability to use and understand language. She also mentions the reality of nothingness which (if you are looking at it cynically) occurs before birth and after death. Harvest Clarke uses the first line already mentioned and the playful line: “Reality don’t care about nothing”, to show this theme.
Together the poems build up to a potent piece. I am confident that each new reader will glean something new from Harvest Clarke’s words and sentence structure, which has never been spotted before. This makes the book both exciting and a challenge.