Poet Rebecca Eland read from her newest book “Within the Hour” last Tuesday in Tyrrell Hall. Eland was born in Tulsa but has lived all over the country and world including California, Colorado and India. Eland is also a ballet dancer and often mixes the two disciplines.
Eland calls her style “projective verse” and often draws upon the various places she has lived as subject material for her poetry. Her poems have a slow rhythm to them, which is accentuated by her soft voice maximizing the impact each word and phrase has on the listener. The event itself was well-attended, yet still felt cozy.
Eland received her BA from Naropa University and her MFA from St. Mary’s. Her book “Within the Hour.” also goes by the title “Arrives, then Steady Pace with the Hour” and is filled with Americana and simple yet intense imagism. The book was written mostly in the Bay Area and focuses strongly on setting. Eland’s poetry captures the essence of the place it is written in, whether that be the West Coast, the Rocky Mountains, or India. Her language is distilled and powerful, each line is thoughtfully constructed. However distant or close the setting of her poem may be, Eland is able to make her poetry seem familiar without sacrificing any of the majesty of the scene. She uses repetition masterfully to invoke multiple meanings from the same words and onomatopoeic language to make the spaces from which she’s writing feel real.
Her poetry focuses strongly on places. It works like a magnifying glass focusing all of the attention on an item, a scene, an image. Around this center point she builds a world and fills it with meaning. The strong lyrical imagism pulls a listener or reader out of their consciousness into the domain of the poem. The subject of her poetry ranges from urban baseball to the beauty of ballet. Eland frames her poems to highlight the importance of the small items and details of everyday life. For example, one of Eland’s poems explores the scene of a group of ballerinas warming up; however, the poem centers its perspective on a singular ballet shoe. In another poem she describes a scene of a simple urban baseball game. In yet another she focuses on Robert Motherwell’s painting “Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 172.”
Eland answered a few questions from the audience after her reading. When asked about how Tulsa has influenced her, she responded that growing up in Oklahoma has given her a type of patience that does not exist in other places. Eland also answered questions about her writing techniques, saying that she liked to carry a small notebook with her wherever she goes. She also talked about how she likes to “write from real spaces.” She also spoke about her time in India, particularly a workshop she taught where no one spoke the same language as one another. Eland explained that the class had to communicate using dance.
Rebecca Eland’s newest book of poetry, “Arrives, then Steady Pace with the Hour,” can be found on Amazon.