Glück’s international reputation as an accomplished and critically acclaimed contemporary poet makes the arrival of her new volume an eagerly anticipated event. This slender collection meets these expectations with 44 poems that pull the reader into a realm of meditation and memory. She sets most of them in the heat of summer—a time of year when nature seems almost oppressively heavy with life—in order to meditate on the myriad realities posed by life and death. Glück mines common childhood images (a grandmother transforming summer fruit into a cool beverage, two sisters applying fingernail polish in a backyard) to resurrect the intense feelings that accompany awakening to the sensual promises of life, and she desperately explores these resonant images, searching for a path that might reconcile her to the inevitability of death. These musings produce the kinds of spiritual insights that draw so many readers to her work: she suggests that we perceive our experiences most intensely when tempered by memory, and that such experiences somehow provide meaning for our lives. Yet for all her metaphysical sensitivity and poetic craftsmanship, Glück reaffirms our ultimate fate: we all eventually die. Rather than resort to pithy mysticism or self-obsessive angst, she boldly insists that death creeps in the shadows of even our brightest summers. The genius of her poems lies in their ability to sear the summertime onto our souls in such a way that its “light will give us no peace.”
A fine demonstration of the power and versatility of Glück’s verse, this volume will delight fans and intrigue newcomers.