Take Nothing With You by Sarah V. Schweig is the poet’s first full-length collection of poetry. Schweig is also the author of the chapbook S from Dancing Girl Press. Her poetry and criticism have appeared in many journals. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Columbia University and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
There is definitely a New York quality to Shweig’s writing. The city is the setting for most of the poems and is never too far away in the others. From the rooftops to the transit system the city is the star and it is limited only by the edge of the water.
Along the shore lie those who know there is no heaven, and no answer to our questions, and that ships leaving piers look like distant chandeliers.
Trains and the city present the backdrop to the poems. “Contingencies” reflects on graffiti and the juvenile delinquents who white out the graffiti of the Latin King. The “whiting” of the city is being done by black and latino children.
The poetry is modern in style, but not too complex. In “Rooms”:
At the bottom of the ocean, unreached by waves of light, there is no weather. Instead (so I’ve heard), a perfect species of albino fish never comprehends the concept of Surface.
The storm rolled in the Blue Rain.
It snuffed out cadmium ends of cigarettes pointellating the cityscape, neon
from the signs up and down Rain Street, and rising water erased
eyes from every picture frame.
The reading is enjoyable. There are plenty of water and big city themes in the writing. Not from New York, but from a large city myself, I revel in the city life. Schweig captures the good, bad, and the need to occasionally escape it. There is a flow and feeling of connection throughout the collection. Nothing is perfect, for example, the flow of “Brighton Beach” is punctuated by the train stop announcements on the route to the beach. It’s the hustle and bustle of the city that creates a rhythm and pulse. Some of the poems delve into relationships with the saddest being “To A Daughter.” Others reflect the poet’s feelings and experiences. A well-rounded collection of poetry. Complex, but not over demanding, Schweig creates a personal relationship with the reader.