The Antigone Poems
By: Marie Slaight, Terrence Tasker (Illustrator)
Format/Source: Paperback courtesy of the publishers via LibraryThing Early Reviewers Programme
Passionate, brutal, and infused with extraordinary lyricism, The Antigone Poems provides a special expedition into the depths of the ancient Sophocles tragedy. The work’s obsessive, ritualistic and ultimately mysterious force brings into sharp focus the heroic, tragic figure at the center of the primordial compact between gods and humans.
The work, a collaboration between poet, Marie Slaight and artist, Terrence Tasker, was created in the 1970’s, while the artist were living in Montreal and Toronto.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme. The premise of the book caught my attention particularly as I recently re-read Sophocles’ Three Plays (Antigone, Oedipus Rex and Electra). I never got around to reviewing/posting about my re-read but the idea of taking the story and sort of conveying some of the strands and emotions through poetry really caught my attention.
Firstly, while I like reading poetry, I don’t think I’m quite the person to review it as I’m never quite sure how to go about it. I think the above premise really captures a sense of what to expect within the pages of this book. The poems aren’t long and are rather sparce and drawn out between chapters and pages. It’s all about the emotion, the sensations, than about who’s saying it, whose perspective these words are coming from. And it is very mysterious, very gritty in its–I can’t even call it pagan, really, “primordial” is the best word here–emphasis. My personal favourite chapter or segment of the poems is Chapter 4; things are really dark in this chapter, the emotions running raw and some of the imagery very visceral.
The drawings included in this volume are very haunting, very dark, and again evokes that sense of raw intensity and is very atmospheric with the poetry. I’m not sure if the layout featured in this ARC will remain in the final, official copy but it works nicely aesthetically with its empty pages and the overall minimalist approach.
Overall, The Antigone Poems is a curious but intriguing piece of artistic work. I don’t think you necessarily have to read the play by Sophocles to understand what’s going on in the poems and what it’s trying to capture. This collection will available in March 2014.