A deeply felt, intelligently observed collection of poetry.
In her latest book of poems, Sharpe (A Partial Rainbow Makes No Sense, 2012) invites readers to look at things from a different angle, whether she’s describing “Vegas from the Air” as a “luminous web” in her opening poem or pointing out that “Fish with hooks / caught in their jaws, / have their own fish stories” in “Hooks.” In plainspoken, accessible language, these free-verse poems explore the mysteries of the human condition—what torments and obsesses us—from the mundane demands of work to spiritual inquiry into the sublime. Whatever her subject, Sharpe’s gifts of description and sly humor provide welcome insights: “Dumb / is smart / for oracles. / They sit. / They smile. / They dissemble. / No one / leaves / dissatisfied.” Like poet Eliza Griswold, Sharpe’s travels around the world as a journalist inform many of her pieces; she looks to Egypt, Java, Russia, India and other locales for inspiration. Her poems suggest not only the excitement of a globe-trotting life, however, but also its consequences: In “After Visitation in Jakarta,” for example, she struggles to say goodbye to a child who hates “flying so far, / alone,” and for whom “home’s / with him, your Dad.” The moving “Accident” revisits the death of a “silly little sister” in a car wreck, wishing that “we could open a skull / like a black box after a plane’s / gone down.” In the concluding lines of the collection’s final poem, when Sharpe writes, “oh when can I put down roots / I want to go down deep / before I die,” it seems she’s already found the home she so longs for—in her poems, where she indeed digs deep. This collection’s glimpses into her inner life make for an unsettlingly relatable and moving read.
A pitch-perfect book of reflections and hard-won wisdom that proves Sharpe’s merits as a poet.