Sharon H. Nelson

Grasping Men's Metaphors

The Muses' Company, 1993, 98 pp.

Cover Art by Seymour Segal

"Words Ring With Music beyond Their Sound"

Form And Structure

According to its back cover, "Grasping Men's Metaphors is a journey through a maze of beliefs constructed over millennia by the poet and the pornographer with the same tools: language and image. From the frame established by the opening sections, through parodies of literary pretensions, poses and poseurs, Grasping Men's Metaphors moves towards a dramatic re-examination of the uses and meanings of myths and symbols. In this, her seventh book of poems, Sharon H. Nelson fleshes in the body politic that lies under the skin of the body poetic. Tongue in cheek, thumb to nose, Nelson delineates the ironies of oppression and refuses to take men's metaphors lying down."

Grasping Men's Metaphors is a complex, difficult, and sometimes very funny book, most obviously "a collapsed novel," the term Kenneth Radu used in "Speaking Daggers: The Poetry Of Sharon H. Nelson," an overview that appeared in Matrix. The book is divided into three sections and provides copious endnotes for its many scriptural, liturgical, and literary references. The introductory section, "Amazons and Astronauts," provides a feminist frame that is followed by "Profanities," full of verses "ribald and bitchy" in the tradition of Dorothy Parker. The final and longest section, towards which the whole book moves, is "Sacraments," set on a line from Song Of Songs: "Let him give me of the kisses of his mouth." "Sacraments" includes the long poem "Song of Innocence and Experience" set on a text from Blake and another from Corinthians.

Sharon H. Nelson. 15 March 1999.