I first discovered Hannah Gamble while surfing through the Poetry Foundation’s website. She was the guest blogger of the month, and wrote a post about how elementary aged students wrote good poetry more naturally than middle schoolers. By the time kids get to middle school, they are trying to fit in so much that they lose their voice and don’t take as many chances. They are working to make it sound “right,” and it loses some of it’s uniqueness. Anyway, later on, I heard a recorded reading of this poem, “Growing a Bear,” and it made me really want to read more Hannah Gamble.
This poem looks at the mid-life crisis through a very interesting lens. I think it’s taking this image of creating a bear in the basement to this lonely feeling that is so easy for people to fall into when life seems to become too routine. Creating a bear is such an oddity and not completely realistic, so there’s this sort of magical, mysterious quality to the whole thing. Is the subject going crazy? Is the poem just telling this story in an abstract way? Is it something in between? I like how the poem leaves it mysterious–the issues it is dealing with certainly are.
Hannah Gamble’s only book Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast (2012), was selected for the National Poetry Series, but alas “Growing a Bear,” is not in it.