From Land of Oz is a quest about finding poetry everywhere it presents itself. These poems are based on L. Frank Baum’s cherished children’s book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” a story has inspired reproductions, continuations and recreations since its original publication in 1900. Inspired, Kathleen de la Chaumette relies on the classic as the basis of her poems in the recently published From the Land of Oz.
Reminiscent and nostalgic, the poems in the collection attempt to recreate the magic and mystery we experienced as children, reminding us of and transporting us back to Oz. The wonderment and joy that follows the childlike innocence experienced and replicated through The Wizard of Oz are retained and revisited in De La Chaumette’s selection of poems.
Much like the journey in The Wizard of Oz, in From The Land of Oz the reader embarks on their own personal quest for courage, intelligence, and passion. Embodying the strength of the lion, the scarecrow’s discernment, and the Tin Man’s empathy, the poems in From The Land of Oz help us to dispel our own self doubt and transcend the boundaries rooted in our weaknesses.
The subtle use of onomatopoeia allows for the transfer of sensual impressions through imagery; scenes imbued with the whisperings of love, singing birds and sincere offerings from the soul call to mind memories, bringing with them new understanding. The animals that inhabit the poems, like Dorothy’s companions, are both wild and tame, and integral to de la Chamette’s quest. For a moment, the clarity of imagery masks the depth of the metaphors. She laments the lost code of flashed headlights and horns on a road trip, but listening she discovers communicates arriving by other routes. These are poems of attention to instinct. These poems embody a sister, a black swan, a bull in the arena, a horse aware of a wild turkey in the brush before the rider is, a bookseller attracted by reading choices, a hand that connects to the world as the finely painful points of physiology disconnect. The sequence of poems, like the journey to Oz, moves ever away from the perfection that memory makes of the past.
Kathleen de la Chaumette’s poetry truly captures the spirit of childhood innocence and implores readers to embrace change; to grow, even, all the while implying permission to stay young and child-like. Instilling within us the understanding that both mind and body work in conjunction, this collection of poems balances on a precipice between our youthful ignorance and the wisdom that comes with the ages.
Kathleen de la Chaumette grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and currently lives in San Diego, California where she teaches literature and writing at various colleges and universities. She has a BA and an MFA from San Diego State University. Her poems have won awards and been published in Southern Poetry Review, Discover/The Nation, South Coast Poetry Journal (second prize poem chosen by Maxine Kumin), The Bellingham Review, and The Elk River Review. Other poems have been published in The Missouri Review, New Delta Review, The South Coast Poetry Journal, Negative Capability, and A Critique of America. She enjoys photography, travel, music, and raising boxer dogs.
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