Friday, March 29, 2024

The Breakables of The Glass Studio


 The heart is the fragile part

            that allows things to break

   from “The Flaw”



                                                     L e t  t h e s e  l I n e s  b e  s t r o n g e r

t h a n  t h o s e  b r o k e n  a t  e v e r y  s u p e r m a r k e t ,

b r o k e n  w i t h  p e o p l e  h o a r d I n g

   from “Cognitive Overload Virtually Invites Disaster — 19”



he broke my mother’s body

                to create something sacred

   from “The Glass Studio: I must go back”



                                                             …as if it were


my body, it broke. But I forgive you for the miracle

of everything you shatter.

   from “Oracle”



                                         not comprehending

                                   what glass stood for: breakable,

                       unbroken, seamless, flat.

   from “Properties of Glass”


The Dresser notes that broken and fragile things are featured in Sandra Yannone’s The Glass Studio, a collection of poetry published in 2024  from the Irish press salmonpoetry. Some of the broken things are massive—New York’s Twin Towers and the people who perished there during the terrorist attack of 9/11, the Titanic ship that hit an iceberg sending its passengers into icy waters, the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where 49 people died and 53 others were injured. While all the poems employ the word glass, over half of the poems in this collection use some version of the word break, including the last poem “The Glass Studio — Glass eyes, glass flowers, glass attics and floors”, which ends “Now go home to your glass house and unpack every glass mirror you forever hoped to break.”


This work is about the fragile proposition of living and finding connection through love. The opening poem “Cut Glass” makes this clear as the “I” narrator, presumably the poet, gives her lover a jar of tap water and sea glass “worn down/by years/of turbulent waves/and rocks.” In a way, this odd gift is like a snow globe meant to be shaken. But unlike the scene of snow falling over an idyllic landscape, this jar when disturbed  floats glass that cuts, has cut the poet marring her once perfect skin.


What is perfectly intact is this intelligent and sensitively arranged work of 36 well-sculpted poems presented in four sections, most prefaced by a quote on glassmaking and each ending with a poem entitled “The Glass Studio.” Variety prevails in terms of poetic forms used but also includes a sestina in every section. Other forms include sonnets, prose poems, quatrains, couplets, tercets, a variety of indented and interleaved poems where alternating lines hug the left and then the right margin.


A less familiar form occurs in “Cognitive Overload Virtually Invites Disaster — 19”, a pandemic lockdown poem where even the letters of the words observe “social distancing.” Toward the end of “Cognitive Overload…”, comes this line: “W I l l  t h I s  p o e m  b e  m y  f I n a l  l o v e r ?” Here this meta poetic question elevates the plight of the poet by superimposing a capital I (to emphasize the first-person point of view) in the words wIll, thIs, and fInal. It is part of the poet’s cognitive overload. Cognitive overload occurs when the brain gets too much information and stops working. Not all the i’s in the poem are capitalized and the Dresser guesses that not every reader will notice the emphasis the poet is placing on the letter I.


Poetry of merit deserves rereading, and, in that rereading, one hopes to discover something new. The Glass Studio is a book to slowdown for, to let its letters, words, forms, and meanings have time to coalesce as the making of a stain glass window might. In other words, Sandra Yannone practices careful craftsmanship in her glass studio.