First published in Woodnotes #31, Autumn 1997, page 54.
Fog Lifting by Francine Porad. Vandina Press, 1997,36 pages,5½ by 4¼ inches. $5.75 postpaid in the U.S. from the author at 6944 SE 33rd, Mercer Island, Washington 98040-3324 [address no longer correct]. Poetry is a realm of emotion, and some poets naturally tend toward nostalgia and sweetness. This tendency can lead to one of poetry’s supposed dangers—sentimentality. Francine Porad is a poet who treads the fine line of sentimentality, and whether you respond positively to certain poems may depend how strongly you feel about the dictum against sentimentality. Such poems as “three times at random / he stops his play to say, / ‘I love you!’ / my grandson and I build / more than a tower of blocks” reveal the poet’s deep love of family and touching moments of togetherness. Some would call this overly sentimental. Reading a lot of such poems can be like eating too much candy. Some, however, would say Francine has the courage to thumb sentimentality in the face and enjoy being a grandmother. Such is the case with her work in the last few years. In Fog Lifting you’ll find 29 haiku and senryu and five tanka from 17 published sources in four countries. One or two poems appear per page, ranging from nature poems such as the title poem, “fog lifting . . . / soon the ducks and geese,” to vignettes of family closeness (although not all are sweet, as in “silenced by a stroke her hateful tongue”). The poet is true to form here, delivering the poetry she is known for. Francine Porad is not afraid of sentimentality. Or to be herself.