Review: "A Small Handful" from a Towering Poet
A Small Handful
Conceived and directed by Jim Petosa
Presented by PTP/NYC via streaming
August 13-17, 2021
|Paula Langton. Courtesy DARR Publicity|
The poems performed come from the earliest and latest of Sexton's published volumes, beginning with "Where It Was At Back Then," from the posthumous 45 Mercy Street (1976); then reaching back to "Music Swims Back to Me," from To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960), her first published book of poems; and ending with "Seven Times," part of "The Death Baby" in The Death Notebooks (1974), published in the same year as Sexton died. Taken as a whole, one might, if one chooses, perceive in the juxtaposition of these poems the creation of an arc: a (doubled) speaker who talks first of a marriage in which she feels "incomplete," then of the disorientation of an institution, and finally of how "death took root."
|Kaileigh Reiss. Courtesy DARR Publicity|
A Small Handful takes its title from the final line of "Seven Times," a declaration of the speaker's existential view of herself in that moment that collapses images of birth and death. The production itself might be seen as a form of new birth, giving new embodiment in a unique form to words that have transcended death.
-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards