A Little Middle of the Night
Molly Brodak’s poetry collection A Little Middle of the Night is wide in its range: big dog topics like perceptions of art and the weight of tragedy are sifted through by a careful and talented poet. These poems tell the story of how "we stopped making up stories of how our horror was salvation/ and just lived it."
Brodak's poetry is "turning under and under every buried thing." The reader is expected to follow suit, to keep up, and do the work necessary to access and engage with the poems. Broadak says it herself in "The First Poem." The first line tells the reader to "get up" and the closing lines explain that "the first poem" never did "ask you to sit."
If there's one criticism that could be latched to this collection, it is that the poems are not immediately accessible. Then again, the purpose of poetry is not so much obvious meanings, but what poets can line in their pockets, sleeves, and grinning lyrics. Brodak's poetry is about the act of discovery. For example, in the final poem, "Real World Magic," both the speaker and the reader sense themselves "formless in force, disarmed by a little sun, waking." We may think we are awake, but these poems take new stabs at age-old mysteries and ideas.
Dream, the space of darkness, and the relationship between nature and art are all examined. Like a child experimenting with blocks, Brodak is happy to manipulate and experiment with the abstract and concrete entities, as well as the space between such ideas. The joy of these poems is that they do not always rest on an answer but rather to the joy of the problem, vision, or idea explored. The poems are like a wheel: there are many spokes of meanings. To read her, you must climb without searching for an exact point. To cling to such hope, would cause you to miss the surrounding scenery as well as the blood, sweat, and tears of the journey. There are many nooks, crannies, and possibilities in these poems if you only make the effort to look.