Living on Fire: A Collection of Poems
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All the poems in Living on Fire create their own small worlds. During a long-ago trip down the Mississippi, the author recalls, "Sometimes our waterways became narrow and dim, dark mirrors/under live-oak branches hung with Spanish moss and snakes." A new love affair brings "this nighttime madness/in the backseat of a roadster." Later, she remarks with almost as much wonder as sadness, "Sightless,/I have become a stranger to my own person." Together, these poems articulate a sensibility at once distinctive and universal. Virginia Hamilton Adair has taken the specificities of her own sometimes joyous, sometimes tragic life and transformed them into powerful celebrations and elegies whose beauty and profundity will affect everyone who reads them. Even in the midst of despair, this is a poet whose work, in its sustained passion, indeed lives on fire.
Rezension: When her first collection, Ants on the Melon, was published in 1996, the 83-year-old Virginia Hamilton Adair was widely hailed as a literary comet. Her third, Living on Fire, offers yet another chance to marvel at Adair's poetic gifts. And with the thousands of poems rumored to be remaining in her enormous stockpile, we may well be sky gazing longer than we had any right to expect.
Given the poet's age, the tendency toward the elegiac in Living on Fire is no surprise. But these are not the poems of a cranky senior citizen. Instead, they're suffused with frankness and subversive humor, revolving around randy guinea pigs or furtive, fumbling love in a swerving roadster. Much of the nostalgia can be appreciated by old and young alike--by all those readers, in fact, who like their pleasures simple and their nature uncomplicated. "In the days before RV's," the author reminds us, "the sound of tent pegs being driven in was music." Several of these bucolics seem ripe and ready for the anthologies, where they'll find homes next to Adair's contemporaries, Elizabeth Bishop, Theodore Roethke, and Robert Lowell.
Living on Fire covers a range of poetic forms, with a fondness for rhyme that Adair attributes to her own blindness (the rhymes help her to envision the shape of the lines). Sightlessness is also a frequent subject, albeit one she approaches without a grain of self-pity. Indeed, the sensitivity with which Adair adapts to, and even embraces, her blindness is often inspiring:
From mountain summits that I cannot see,Adair's poems offer an abundance of linguistic pleasures. And along with helping us to better understand our elders, they demonstrate a quiet dignity that all of us, poets or not, might well aspire to. --John Ponyicsanyi
the wind has brought the taste of snow to me
and night returns me, with a breath of frost,
the rim of white on Baldy, nine years lost.
Blind to abundance when I was not blind,
I breathe one rose and hold it in my mind.
Titel: Living on Fire: A Collection of Poems
Verlag: Random House, Westminster, Maryland, U.S.A.
Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Fine
Auflage: First Edition.
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