In-Depth Look: Talia Young – “While My Love Sleeps I Cook Dinner”
Appreciating poetry is often about patience: sitting with a poem, meditating on it, and re-reading it multiple times. With spoken word, we don’t always get a chance to do that. This series is about taking that chance, and diving a little deeper into some of the new poems going up on Button.
“I call her love, as if she herself is love: something glowing and untouchable…”
Note how this poem explores the big, universal idea/trope/archetype of the long distance relationship through some stunningly specific imagery. For example, we could do a deep dive into just this passage:
“I tell my friends: I’m moving to a new country, because I have already left Minneapolis entirely. What exists between us? A piano string. A cord strung between two cups. All the veins in my body pulled taut.”
That sequence of three images works so well because each one is concrete– something that isn’t just an idea or a concept, but that you can visualize, or imagine holding in your hand. But there’s another layer to the sequence: each concrete image also belongs to the same family of images: they’re all string-like structures that enable some form of communication. It’s one thing to think of some cool images; it’s something else to have those images be consistent and supportive of one another.
Finally, there’s the additional effect of the last of the three images being something fantastical– it’s still easy to visualize, but it’s also bizarre (in a good way) and evocative. That rhythm– example, example, fantastical example– powerfully reinforces what the line, and the poem as a whole, is trying to say about the relationship between love, distance, and technology.
The poem also includes lines like “Our love in the shaky hands of the wifi” and the climactic: “I imagine a room in which every text is preserved in its own carved wooden box; I imagine all of this is physical, somewhere.” Both of these lines say something profound not just about long distance relationships in a general sense, but about how those relationships work right now, in this historical moment. That impulse– to document the specificity of the actual experience rather than attempt to capture some storybook archetype of what we think that experience “should” look like– serves this poem so well.