Compartmentsby Carol Smallwood
Hence, it was with great pleasure and a strong memory of how strange nature
For those of us who were raised in an urban center and occasionally bundled into some uncle's old Ford or onto a train for a day trip to the outland (which could be defined as anywhere away from city streets and sweltering apartment buildings), the natural world was a suspicious place.
Hence, it was with great pleasure and a strong memory of how strange nature still seems to me that I read Carol Smallwood's Compartments: Poems on Nature, Femininity, and Other Realms because it was like being given the gift of a guidebook for the uninitiated, a lovely, sometimes gentle, sometimes cleverly snappish, always graceful and immensely thoughtful collection of poems. She moves with ease between her "realms," starting us off slowly in a place like Lake Niprissing, which we can all remember even if we've never been there. "Lake air greeted me," Smallwood says, offering the line in mesmerizing repetition until one can hear the "cracking of ice" through the mist and fog. In this world, even the Avon lady has something to say about the natural world ("you have a wasp's nest by your door") while at the same time offering a disappointing vision of hoped-for sisterhood, when all she can offer is a vision of slim models and the tranquilizing properties of pastels. Further into the collection, Smallwood also bravely takes on Society, Science, Home, and School, but each subject is suffused with the light and shadow of nature, sometimes written into the poems, sometimes hovering just beyond an open window.
Smallwood is a skilled and thoughtful poet. Her work is a joy to read.
--Eleanor Lerman, 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry; The Sensual World Re-Emerges (Sarabande Books, 2010).
- Anaphora Literary Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.34(d)
- Age Range:
- 14 Years
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