Ocean Avenue by Malena Morling

Posted: March 9, 2009 in Uncategorized

Malena Morling’s book of poems, Ocean Avenue, is filled with the energy and mundane that punctuate everyday life. This collection of poems follows the title closely in that each poem is an expression of movement from one place to another just like an avenue that allows cars and buses to move from point A to point B. But Morling’s poems do not just exam the daily movement from home to work; she captures the details that we often take for granted, like a glimpse from an evening ride home on a train of  “the man who mops the floors. / On the inside of his forehead / a dream that takes no room / unfolds on this earth” (Aether 14). Morling brings our attention to everyday normality, and adds her own twist that transforms the mundane into thought provoking and revealing imagery. Ocean Avenue offers its reader a good look into their own reality, an interpretation of events that they are sure to experience, and a new lens to evaluate and ponder the little moments that make life eventful and interesting.
Morling uses simile and metaphor to transform the banal into surprising and sometimes impossible situations. She uses an element, like air or water, to change the world we know into a still recognizable element, simply tweaking the situation slightly to offer a new perspective. In Morling’s poem ‘In a Motel Room at Dawn’ “the air is visible again, floating / through the room / like a liquid, like water / washing over the ruined furniture. / And washing also over my head / here on this pillow, here where many / other heads have rested” (13). In this section air, our most necessary and most often taken for granted element, becomes visible which makes it more tangible; the air takes on unusual characteristics by filling up an empty space. The Poet’s Companion discusses the effect of empty space in terms of line breaks, “All that white space around your words makes them really stand out” (Addonizio 112). This statement not only fits for placing words on a page, but for the use of space and motion in metaphorical language. Morling uses all of the space that surrounds us; she focuses on tiny fascinating details, and fills up the empty places in the reader’s imagination with them.
Morling’s poems are tangible, they transport the reader into an experience they can understand and participate with. She does not create beautiful landscapes with words that require decoding or copious research to comprehend. Each poem is like a perfectly ripened apricot resting in a tree and begging to be picked and tasted and savored. We know that apricot will be sweet and have a seed in the center, but when we bite in the flavor explodes like a well-aimed water balloon smashing into its target. Morling’s poetry is enticing and within the grasp of any curious reader of poetry. Ocean Avenue is an excellent introductory book of poetry for a reader who finds poetry intimidating because it remains entirely accessible to a general audience.

The author’s website


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