— Profile by Kathryn Wallis, Art Editor for Elan Literary Magazine
Sidney Wade is the most recently announced poet to be attending Douglas Anderson’s Writer’s Festival on March 3rd. She is currently the professor of creative writing at the University of Florida. She is not only a professor, but a poet and translator as well. Sidney Wade clearly reflects the influence of these titles on her life in a vast majority of work she has published, including the six books she has published thus far. She most commonly publishes poetry and, in said pieces, there are many allusions to outside cultures and languages. Sidney Wade also possesses a skill to reveal a very deep connection to imagery and nature, seeming to illustrate the idea that it surrounds mankind and allows us to mimic it.
My favorite poem crafted by this artist is “A Computerized Jet Fountain in Detroit Metro Airport”, featured in her 2007 poetry collection, “Stroke”. The piece is based off of another poem by Richard Wilbur. Wilbur’s piece was constructed around a small detail in a surrounding environment. This is reflected in Wade’s poem as she begins to analyze the workings of a water fountain before she slowly begins to reveal her innermost connections and feelings with the fountain’s and life’s repetitive nature. In a sense, Wade is highlighting the end of our happiness resurrecting into something of the same optimism in a cycling motion, making life something exciting, perhaps worth living for. This especially resonated with me as the intent of the piece was led somewhere I did not expect. This is result of the fact that Sidney Wade began her piece with an intensely specific description of a setting before it gradually became more figurative. She ended up connecting the reader to the whole of moving figures instead of the water in a fountain in an airport.
Her descriptions are certainly what hook the reader initially, however. She obviously puts a lot of effort/ research into the objects she describes. Most importantly, she ensures that these said symbolic objects have meaning to the intent of the poem as a whole. This is important as descriptions are more often used by other writers to fill up whitespace. Wade contradicts this in the aforementioned poem when she is describes the fountain in depth. Though it seems boring initially, it is easy to fall into the slowly raising issue of mankind that most anyone knows of, but never acknowledges. Her language is consistently sophisticated as well, giving the philosophical aspects of her poem more depth and more seriousness as to truly allow the reader the feeling that she had originally intended and felt herself.
As mentioned above, nature is a common instrument in many of her pieces. The poem that I analyze here is no exception. Thought it is not clear, her description of the flowing, filtered water of the fountain almost makes it seems like a flowing river that she is only watching. She also compares the streams to otters, allowing the reader to further release themselves from the assumed setting of this piece into something more organic and outside of any common stretch of society. This struck me as I had never noticed how useful of a tool nature was in attempting to link two things or people in society today. Of course, Wade had already figured this out and utilized it to the best of her abilities, allowing her the recognition she is receiving today.