For a poet, I think I’m late to the nesting and writing stages of coronavirus grief. But thanks to a cat, perimenopause and Natalie Goldberg, I’m here now.
IN THE FIELD BETWEEN US by MOLLY MCCULLY BROWN & SUSANNAH NEVISON / The poems in this book grapple with all the versions of the self, as they are created, as they are destroyed. Embodying reality in any given moment is a moving target.
They say now bandanas and neck gaiters are not good enough. And an infectious disease expert tells CNN we may be wearing masks for a few more years. Asked about forever, he does not say no.
TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE SEA by ADAM CLAY / It is satisfying to see our human tribulations set among the stars and also be reminded of the something else out there. Somehow, the poems capture both ego and humility.
I’m forever in awe of poetry’s ability to tap into what paces beneath the surface, anxious to be seen. Maybe it was the stuffed-down stress of the morning, but the weeping felt like a true connection. At the heart of the poem is the idea that we don’t or can’t always appreciate — or even recognize — love when it’s given to us.
LANDSCAPE WITH PLYWOOD SILHOUETTES by KERRIN MCCADDEN / It’s tempting to say the poems in this collection are “about” divorce, parenting, art, rivers, photos/cameras, ocean, ghosts, loneliness, etc., but it feels more to me to be a book about tenderness. Those other topics/items — grief, cartoons, chairs — are present alongside us as living beings. They’re active in our stories.
EMERGENCY BRAKE by RUTH MADIEVSKY / It’s absolutely appropriate that Jill is the one who pointed me toward this collection: like Jill, Madievsky’s writing is next-level playful and imaginative. Both of them have a gift for freshness with language that’s soooooo enviable. Each analogy makes you wonder what just hit you and if you’ll be lucky enough to be struck again.
HOMIE by DANEZ SMITH / I deeply admire how exuberance in the poems can’t be untangled from mourning and how Smith crafts so many of the poems in Homie to condemn white supremacy simply by putting it on display: Smith allows it to incriminate itself by its very existence, by its insistence, by its cruelty, what it permeates.