In this extraordinarily lyrical overview of three decades of poems, Maxine Kumin delights the reader's ear again and again, especially in her ability to hear the music of nature. Consider, for instance, "In the Pea Patch": "These as they clack in the wind / saying castanets, saying dance with me, / saying do me, dangle their intricate / nuggety scrota." The melodic flow of the lines does a lot of poetic work for Kumin, reinforcing the poem's thematic celebration of nature's seductiveness and inherent eroticism. These are very beautiful, very knowing poems.
From Library Journal
A pastoral poet who was strongly influenced by friend and mentor Anne Sexton, Kumin is quite simply one of the very best poets writing today. The present collection represents a lifetime (until now) of Kumin's work and includes selections from all her published volumes, dating from her earliest volume Halfway (1961) to Nurture (LJ 3/1/89), although it excludes Closing the Ring (1984), which was published in a limited edition. The reader can move slowly, meanderingly, deliciously through the stages of Kumin's poetic life, from the young woman who writes, "My bones drank water; water fell/ through all my doors. I was the well" through the pastoral years of farm life ("The doomed cattle, wearing/ intelligent smiles, turn.") to her fierce 1980s dedication to wildlife conservation and animal welfare. One could only wish that Kumin had included a few poems from her wonderful 1996 volume, Connecting the Dots (LJ 6/15/96). But she gives us a peek at an apparently unpublished group of poems called Joppa Diary, which seems to have been written sometime in the late 1960s. Feeling a compelling connection to far-off troubles, she writes poems with near-hidden hints of violence: "Reading late,/ last-awake in the country,/ I think I hear burned babies screaming,/ screaming in the basswood by my window." Very highly recommended.?Judy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward
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