Unruly AngelsBook - 2011
The courtroom is the stage for Unruly Angels , Diane Buchanan's new book of poetry, but this courtroom is unlike any other. Here applause is encouraged and both tears and laughter can spontaneously erupt. Here the audience consists of prisoners, nursing babies, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters, as well as the usual legal and security staff, student nurses and the occasional observer. Here the actors are people afflicted with drug addictions.
This book opens the curtains on Drug Treatment Courts, a court specifically designed to supervise cases of drug-dependent offenders who have agreed to accept treatment for substance abuse. It seems an unusual place for a poet and, perhaps for some, addicts and drug addiction are distasteful subjects for poetry. But Diane Buchanan believes that this is what Carolyn Forch calls a poetry of witness that is neither personal nor political but somewhere in between, in a space Forch describes as a place of resistance and struggle ... By situating poetry in this social space we can avoid some of our residual prejudices ...
Unruly Angels begins with a warning: This poem is a roiling sea of drug-soaked decay, a Tarot card warning, a tsunami presage, and ends with a promise: Hang in there. It's worth it. In between are soliloquies, sonnets, incarcerations, graduations, conditions, confessions and a whole alphabet of courage.
Poet Mary Oliver writes: There are in this world a lot of devils with wondrous smiles. Also many unruly angels. In this brave and insightful poetry collection we are taken behind the scenes with the Drug Court team to find that, often, beneath that addict's mask is a terrified angel.