“Pit me of my resources, / Poach me of my life,” writes “actress, singer and songwriter” Estefania Crespo in a self-published bit of self-promotion, When You Feel & Don’t Know How to Say. This collection of poems comes complete with several photographs of the young actress, a filmography (she played “Make out Kissing Student” in Bart Got a Room), and a full-page advertisement for her and her twin sister’s band, EnV, and their EP, Beautiful Thing. You can look up her Web site on your own; my task here is to take the text seriously. So, what sort of poetry does Crespo write?
The poem “Sensations,” for instance, ends:
Continue on your way,
Continue with speechless sulk.
When you think of a person with my name,
And feel a bit of heavenly warmth.
May it continue synergistically,
Sarcastically within abundant bulk.
I’m not entirely sure what that means, though, within the context of the poem, the narrator “cannot help feeling insufficient,” even though “Our favorite is in our favor,” and “Our wanting is in our want.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, either, though, again, the narrator claims to be “glad you have hesitation” before sending that “you” on with the aforementioned silent sulk. As the title of this book indicates, speech–saying–isn’t always easy. “My feeling keep on spilling,” she writes elsewhere, and, in another poem, “Try giving yourself up to words, / It is hard when you are successful.”
Crespo isn’t particularly successful in this regard. “I cannot help but to think of you, / When you accompany every time I breathe,” for instance. Crespo is at her best not when she’s trying to convey what she does not know how to convey–“The way we will never know you,” as she writes in one poem–but when she gives in to the “climbing intensity” of language itself, not speaking from her heart but just playing with words:
Single, secular sorrows,
Bravo to plastic pleathered thoughts.
Thinking is no longer instinctual,
As enhanced green bamboo rots.
Humans limitedly control,
And devices perpetually robot.
I’m not entirely sure what that means, either, but such knowing seems beside the point. There’s something trippy and fun, at least, in such associative acrobatics, which avoid the overcooked sentiments of, say, “You are a tantalizing love fantasy, / Not to dwell upon fantasies that will never die. / Because of you love can only be, / A fantasy so tempting.” I’m pretty sure I do know what that means, but I certainly don’t care. For the most part this book consists of similar pre-masticated tidbits–“Sickening, suffering, trite,” to quote a poem. But there are a few moments when instead of “sensitively burning” her overly self-serious, melodramatic emotions on the page she embraces poetry as “A chomping, charging playful game” and thus succeeds, in part.
“To know and now yourself,” for instance. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’m willing to be seduced, a bit, by its newness, to find it sort of neat.