~ Antigone, Sophocles
The Antigone Poems is a collection of poems written by Marie Slaight between 1972 - 1981, which was published in 2014. This collection is a poetic interpretation of the Sophocles tragedy, and the poems are loosely based on the Greek myth of Antigone. The author dedicates this book to Terrence Tasker (1947-1992), whose charcoal drawings are featured in this poetry collection.
Antigone, a Greek tragedy by Sophocles. Hmm... I looked in my bookshelves because I wondered if I still had a copy of Sophocles: The Theban Plays. I did (complete with some of my in-book notes and scribbles). This is the description on the back of my book, a Penguin classic: "Antigone is the tragedy of a woman ruled by conscience, an over-confident king, and a young man tormented by conflicting loyalties". I read some of the erudite introduction by E.F. Watling, then parts of the play, Antigone, in my tattered volume, to reacquaint myself with this ancient Greek tragedy by Sophocles (496 - 406 B.C.). In the play, the female protagonist, Antigone, is tormented because she mourns the death of her brother, Polynices, and wants to give him a proper burial, which defies the order of the King of Thebes, Creon, an offense that's punishable by death.
Divided into five brief chapters, the poems are accompanied by several charcoal drawings by Terrence Tasker, which are interspersed throughout the book. The drawings are quite remarkable. Together, poems and pictures depict emotional torment, physical anguish, and spiritual darkness.
Many of the poems in this book are short and sparing; they're bold and dramatic, and they deftly delineate an original, poetic portrait of a woman's severe suffering, pain, and heartbreak. I think the author chose Antigone as a symbol of struggle and agony, which may be meant to represent the universal or collective suffering of women.
Gypsy shackle sacred.
Wrists bound in blood.
Burnt in anguish
Of daemon ancestry.
(in Chapter Two)
The poems are deceptively simple yet evocative, and the art complements these qualities. Often the poems are very short and sparing, like this one in Chapter Four.
...gods speak to the wind and winds whip through me...
The look of this prose on the page is quite stark and dramatic. A handful of words make their appearance on the right side only; they pierce and provoke. Pages on the left are blank; the sparsity of words makes this work even more profound and disturbing.
Although short, The Antigone Poems is a powerful and profound collection that deserves to be read, relished, and reread. This would be a great choice for readers with an interest in both poetry and Greek tragedy, although you don't need to have extensive knowledge of Antigone to understand this work. Altaire Productions & Publications and TLC are generously offering a copy of this striking volume, The Antigone Poems, as a giveaway to one of my readers (U.S./Canada only).
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Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, June 1. One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, June 2. Good luck!
Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me a copy of this book. For additional reviews and other features, please visit the other stops on TLC's book tour for The Antigone Poems.