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Carol Tyx's poetry takes a closer look at the every day

Upon reaching the end of Carol Tyx’s collection of poems, “Rising to the Rim,” I was interested to discover the mission statement of the publisher, Brick Road. In part, it reads: “We are not qualified to judge who deserves to be published, so we can concentrate on publishing what we enjoy.”

On first reading, I was taken aback by the claim that a publishing house isn’t qualified to determine who deserves to be published. But upon reflection, I appreciated the demystifying nature of this position. Readers (and reviewers) often find poetry intimidating, concerned that poems are impenetrable codes for which they have no key. The Brick House mission suggests a different approach: give it a read; see if you like it.

I liked Tyx’s collection. Tyx, an associate professor of English at Mount Mercy University, has penned poems that accomplish one of the things I most enjoy discovering in poetry: they ask us to look more closely at the every day. Take, for example, “Red Tomato Rain,” which ends: “…Tell me how a tomato turns/from green to red; tell me how one moment/stands out, luminous and wet.”

While many of the poems in this collection examine and reveal beauty, Tyx doesn’t shy away from more difficult issues. “Holly Jo,” for example, addresses a child who has died. An excerpt: “I thought when you died/I’d be relieved, that I could let this longing for numbness slide into/the ground …”

Tyx’s poems are , by and large plain-spoken, her images and metaphors easily understood. Often, a wry humor is at work. Working in this accessible style, she nevertheless offers insightful, resonant moments, such as the opening like the lines in my favorite poem in the collection, “Learning God Like Spanish:” I learn God like I learn Spanish,/which is to say slowly,/with a lot of repetition./The language of God/is not my native tongue.”

Book reading

What: Carol Tyx reads from “Rising to the Rim”

Where: Flaherty Community Room, Basile Hall, Mount Mercy University

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Cost: Free

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