I loved this book. Margo Berdeshevsky's passionate and honest engagement with self and world make her work stunning, wide-ranging and compassionate--these poems will awaken you, take you far, & bring you home to the blessed and brutal place we all live. In this book, which seems almost to be a prayer unprayed, a song--half sacred, half profane--to the longing for peace and love we all feel, she strikes a rare and heartrending balance between the sorrows and blessings of knowledge, of experience, of love, of body. Her voice, lyric and full of arresting delicacy, has a dramatic muscle rare in a poet of such delicacy. There are echoes of Keats, Herbert, English ballads, Shakespeare, even Whitman, here. This is a big book, full of a broad and limpid mind and heart and soul.
Between Soul & Stone could have as easily been titled, Within Soul & Stone. A penetrating, lyrical exploration of the internal - both concrete and ephemeral, it reads at times like a series of prayers, at times like a call to battle, at times like a love song to the unseen. There is a pervasive physical intelligence throughout this collection that evokes the experience of the microcosm - the fleeting emotion, the sustaining cry, the disappearing blessing, the loss and triumph of time - as though the poet were all these things (and more) before writing about them. Margo Berdeshevsky creates a mystery out of mysteries and then portrays it with lyrical beauty in each poem. This is moving, finely wrought art from a profoundly spiritual poet.
This is a superb book, major poetry in a unique and necessary voice. And such music! I think this volume is more full-throated than the earlier "But a Passage in Wilderness," even more elegiac, maybe even wiser. "My Long Drum" is an exquisite opening (and closing)-- no one can mistake the poet after that, or turn away from her. Many of the poems here and in "But a Passage" have seemed to me to have George Herbert in their heart. This one shivers with Rilke. Berdeshevsky's art is complete, and sustaining.
The following are excerpts from a review in the fall/winter 2012 issue of Pleiades. For the full review, please see the issue.
A poet of supreme grace is Margo Berdeshevsky, author of Between Soul and Stone (Sheep Meadow Press, 2011), a collection that exhibits consistent, magical, transformative lyricism both of image and sound. With Berdeshevsky, one is reminded, for instance, of Company, by Samuel Beckett...
Berdeshevsky circles around and around her themes like a bird of prey.
Here is an important, beautiful contemporary collection that, in unique ways, deals with themes that should concern us all. Buy it, read it, re-read it, teach it, gift it, emulate it. It is worthy.