BY JOANNA C. VALENTE
*Editor's Note: This article has been republished from our old site.
Alice in Greenpoint (Finishing Line Press, 2015) by Iva Ticic is a debut worthy of much praise. Ticic creates a landscape where the speaker is trying to find a home in a new world, so to speak, most notably in the ever-changing, strangely artificial world of Brooklyn, in America, in a land of shiny and new things. How this world appears to an outsider is fascinating, and documented poignantly in these poems.
In the title poem, “Alice in Greenpoint,” the speaker is at a party where all the attendees want to do is talk about the hit TV show “Girls.” The speaker literally feels other, as the other women mimic the privileged show, stating, “But I felt like Alice, the one from the book,/crossing on to the other side/of the baroque looking mirror the apartment contained—/as if I haven’t been looking as it is/to check if I’m worthy,” (Ticic, 18).
Then, in “On Loan,” the speaker is searching for something beautiful—the journey everyone is on. She’s trying to find it, in particular, in Brooklyn, in the sounds Brooklyn makes, and ironically (or not), she finds nothing. This is not to say she doesn’t see the “holy shimmer of skyscraper,” but it’s hard to find the beauty in the people who inhabit the poem: “The lovers who say nothing. / A jet skit slits the water open like a wound; / I smell like coffee on the weekends, / if that’s something you’re into.” (Ticic, 19). In addition, the poem’s title suggests the beauty in Brooklyn is not something the speaker possesses—it is on loan to her in the same way a library book is—she is merely a spectator. And in some ways, perhaps that is what keeps the speaker’s excitement pure. She is not jaded like the “boys who wrestle in shaggy grass, / strangling each other with an / attitude adjustment,” (Ticic, 19).
What is most striking about the collection is the idea of forgotten dreams. And of the idea that dreams are precisely what keeps us living—even if that are futile, or “lost.” The speaker dreams of fitting in, of not being an other, of owning Brooklyn the way she owns her experiences—the cityscape is merely an experience to own like memory. This sentiment is perfectly encapsulated in the poem “The Movie Theater Has Forgotten How to Dream.” On one hand, it is a convoluted letter to her father, describing how difficult it is to become a woman, to decide what kind of woman to be: “You ask me to sing along and to sing aloud, / to become her / and there’s nothing I’d not do,” (Ticic, 21). On the other hand, it’s a letter to herself, mourning her lost dreams, personified by the idea that movie theaters are the caves of these lost dreams. Once the film is over, the dream is gone, the decade done.
This collection is not to be read just once—it is meant to be read over and over, changing with each new experience.