‘Easinesses Found’: Poetry by Fan Ogilvie

Poet Fan Ogilvie of West Tisbury. —Photo by Brooks Robards

West Tisbury’s Fan Ogilvie has published a new volume of poetry and art. “Easinesses Found” is the second poetry collection by Ms. Ogilvie, the former West Tisbury poet laureate who now heads the Cleaveland House poetry group. The book’s title comes from French poet Valery Larbaud.

Ms. Ogilvie’s Island credits are many. She helped organize the Festival of Poetry and the Martha’s Vineyard Writers Program, taught poetry at Featherstone Center for the Arts, and ran a poetry program for Dukes County House of Correction inmates.

She has adopted an unusual format, described in an Author’s Note: “Within the structure of long couplets separated by spaces or lines, I followed a trail of thinking until it was completed.” Following the flow can be a challenge, but at its best, it sends thoughts in different, unexpected directions, bumping words and phrases into each other. Repetition, internal rhymes, vernacular diction, and puns enrich her stream-of-consciousness style.

The book is divided into four sections, and the poems are ordered alphabetically. Colorful paintings by the poet burst off the pages with powerful and pleasurable regularity, along with quotations from the likes of Steve Jobs, Wallace Stevens, and the poet’s songwriting son, Adam.

Ms. Ogilvie is not afraid to delve into dark or uncomfortable places, starting with the very first poem, “All Do Not All Things Well.” Many of her poems benefit from her world travels.

No subject seems to escape the poet’s penetrating eye. “Bee Squared” mixes Greece’s Trojan Horse with references to contract bridge and Oakley sunglasses in a work dedicated to 2010 mining accident survivors in Chile. “Campbell’s Soup” riffs on Andy Warhol’s iconic paintings, her intelligent commentary observing how Andy moved attention from one to the many. Concerns about the environment emerge in the title poem, “Easinesses Found.”

Nor does Ms. Ogilvie shy away from the trivial or mundane, as in “Car Wash.” Obscenities find their place comfortably, as does the sexual in “Slippery When Wet.”

One effect of the poet’s long word strings is that occasionally a phrase will pop out to especially please the reader — the case with “feels all birdy” (“Falling into Focus”).

In “Just Words,” short-lined quatrains in a tribute dated Nov. 5, 2008, end almost every line with “Obama.” Ms. Ogilvie energizes the lyric nature poem in “See Stars.”

The work soars when the poet joins disparate phrases with the same conjunctions. The phrase “or as” in “Pentacostal” moves the poem into a seductive rhythmic pattern.

The subject of poetry is never far from Ms. Ogilvie’s thoughts. She celebrates it in “Shame Shame”: “…the/ field looking for a short cut to the main stream is there always shaming/ me into a clear admission that poetry cuts across this painfully ugly/ scene…”

Islanders will enjoy references to Martha’s Vineyard, as in “Seeking Water.” Readers who explore this lively collection will discover much to savor. Kudos to Tisbury Printer’s Janet Holladay for her masterful design.

Ms. Ogilvie’s paintings go on exhibit at the West Tisbury library with a reception Jan. 9, from 4 to 5 pm.