Horse and Rider takes its title from a passage in the book of Exodus: “Sing unto the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has cast into the sea.” Melissa Range’s poems explore violence and power, particularly as those concepts relate to religion and to the natural world. Her mixture of free and formal verse is populated with warriors, weapons, animals, and figures from the Bible and mythology. In a galloping triptych of ancient and apocalyptic visions, these vigorous poems probe the recurring image of the horse and its sometimes troubled, sometimes loving relationship with its rider.
About the Author
Melissa Range was born and raised in East Tennessee. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a “Discovery”/The Nation prize, and fellowships from Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her poems have appeared in Image, New England Review, TheParis Review, and other journals and have been anthologized in Best Spiritual Writing and The Yale Anthology of the Devotional Lyric.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Melissa Range is the recent winner of the Walt McDonald prize. This, her first volume, vibrates with an intriguing blend of lyrical finesse and strong memorable images. Many carry resonances with an oral tradition when psalms, odes, and epics were memorized and often sung. Range's poems are often inverted analogies, taking a familiar story or object and causing us to look at them under a different aspect, frequently anthropomorphized so that we can share in these objects' pain in being forced into action by humans. There's the trebuchet who anticipates an end to war ("I'll launch roses into ladies' laps/ instead of their lovers' severed heads.") or the shield who befriends you in battle ("You're the turtle; I'm your shell."), the rope who loathes being used for lynchings ("Twine wasn't made for this. I should be baling hay.") Range's poems often have Biblical links: the wooden peg in Judges used to slay the sleeping enemy by impaling through his temple ("(Now instead of rope and sheet, I've brains/ and blood to anchor.") or Yahweh's slaughter of the Egyptian cavalry after the closing of the Red Sea ("He has shown Himself worthy of all our noise:/ He has rid the earth of a few more horses, a few more boys."), or the apostle Paul's conversion reimagined as a John Wayne moview ("Left for the closing credits and for dead,/Saul woke without a horse, without a gun,/without a scratch, a black hat by his head-/an outlaw, an apostle, a changed and wanted man.") The double entendre of 'wanted' is indicative of much of the clever word play deftly practiced by Melissa Range. These poems are enjoyable and thought-provoking without being obscure. I believe Ms. Range is a poet we'll be hearing from again.