From Publishers Weekly
The eighth volume and first retrospective from MacArthur winner Bierds (First Hand
) makes her powers clear while showing how little her work has changed since the 1980s. She uses the English language as a composer of symphonic music might use an orchestra, taking romantic sighs, noble passages and high-flown trills from a full range of vocabulary and reference. She applies her lyrical, humane sensibility and her way with descriptive language to her own life occasionally, but far more often to the lives of eminent artists, writers, inventors and scientists--Erasmus and Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Anton van Leeuwenhoek (who invented the microscope), Marc Chagall, Dr. Tulp (of Rembrandt's Anatomy Lesson
), Dorothy Wordsworth, the British physicist and public lecturer Michael Faraday. Ever alert to loss, Bierds finds the human and natural worlds worthy of fragile praise. In her marriage of research with appreciation, Bierds can recall Amy Clampitt, though she may lack Clampitt's range. In one of several new poems set in Venice, Bierds watches "the sea quickly cast/ its daily mass, herringbone brick by brick." An older poem sees farmers in an English village grind cow horns into translucent house windows, whose "moth-wing haze... softened our guests with the gauze light/ of the Scriptures." (Oct.)
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About the Author
Linda Bierds is the author of six volumes of poetry, most recently The Profile Makers, for which she won the PEN West Poetry Prize and was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Her work has appeared widely, including in The Atlantic Monthly, Field, The New Yorker, and Parnassus. Among her other awards are two National Endowment for the Arts grants, as well as fellowships from the Ingram Merrill, John Simon Guggenheim, and WolfersO'Neill foundations. She lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington.