Latest Volcano by Tana Jean Welch is her first published collection. Welch is a poet and scholar of contemporary American poetry. She received her Ph.D. in Literature from Florida State University in 2013, specializing in American poetry and poetics, multiethnic literature, posthumanism, new materialism, and gender theory. She is currently Assistant Professor at the Florida State University College of Medicine where she teaches courses in literature, writing, and humanities.
This is a collection of poems that hits in a number of ways. I was caught up from the beginning:
…in the bath tub she finds
the tiny toxic lobsters laced
between the bed sheets.
and there one will find a recurring theme of her father’s death or murder. Oranges, the fruit and the color, are also laced throughout the work many times with a dark meaning. From the sweetest oranges ever tasted to the girl with the orange scarf . There is passion and the discovery of passion where one does not expect, but also an interesting description traditional relationships. The rich man who gives her pleasure is simply referred to as “the man whose penis I sometimes hold.” instead of a term of endearment.
“While Waiting” provides interesting twists on what we believe and what really is happening. This is done through the Bighorn sheep and concludes with an unexpected discovery about a stuffed animal. “Leda Burning, Immendorf Palace, 1945” describes the a German SS soldier burning Leda and the Swan. It is an act of destruction but there is a perverse beauty in the description of the destruction that seems to match the deviant undertone of the painting.
There is a uniqueness in this work that is refreshing and at times historical and personal. The reader will understand the poet’s claim:
The serious soul should not be landlocked.
And neither will the reader. Enjoy the journey.