THE DREAM OF THE MARSH WREN by Pattiann Rogers

THE DREAM OF THE MARSH WREN

Writing as Reciprocal Creation
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Rogers (Eating Bread and Honey, not reviewed, etc.) seeks to situate, in plain words, the genesis of her poetry, an experience she handles with aplomb even while it lays her open. In this investigation into what it means to write, one of Milkweed’s new Credo series’s statements of belief, Rogers speaks of origins and sensations rather than process, which, after the form has been decided upon, is a matter of feeling her way forward with language. Her first poem grew out of a longing for and identification with autumn in the hills and woods of the Ozarks; the very act of writing about it brought her comfort and joy. It was also a “power of my own creation to enter and alter my soul. The language had created me,” a generative reciprocity that swung into perpetual motion for her. Much of Rogers’s poetry has fixed on natural history and notions of place, giving praise to creature and landscape, deciphering how she will act honorably with them without sermonizing or sanitizing: “that stain / of stinkhorn down your front, / that leaking roil of bracket / fungi down your back.” The shape of a tree can possess a place for her and chart the architecture of her words; a way of seeing is hatched, where the tree “responds to and encourages and itself takes sustenance from such human bonds.” And these explorations into parts unknown necessarily stop at eerie stations: “After her traditional repertoire she always plays / One piece on her violin in a register so high / The music can’t be heard.” Rogers can stumble, too, with pointless comments or not using her skillful economy in her prose, smothering the three lovely words “hurting summer heat” by following with “a heavy, moist, fiery, unrelieved encumbrance.” These are rare lapses. When a poet spills her secrets, that’s a special gift.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-57131-228-5
Page count: 145pp
Publisher: Milkweed
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1999