Chap Chat: Charlotte Innes' Reading Ruskin In Los Angeles
Charlotte Innes' first chapbook, Reading Ruskin in Los Angeles (Finishing Line 2009), is in the spiritual poetry tradition of Mary Oliver, Patricia Fargnoli, and Mary Rose O'Reilley. However, where those poets focus on nature and small towns, Innes writes from an urban perspective; her work is contemplative, while also enriched by its city backdrops. In this small book, the poet covers a lot of ground, including her Jewish heritage in the title poem, friendship ("Inviting a Friend to Dinner"), and still-life, which she explores through six "broken sonnets." The poems also have a subtle romantic through-line with the recurring character the poet calls, "my friend the philosopher." In pieces like "The Road Nottingham," the speaker and her friend exchange ideas with such urgency the discussions take an erotic tone. What results is a collection of poems that feel both reverent and sensual.