ForeWord Reviews

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Nostos

Foreword Review — Jan / Feb 2000

In a literary world often inundated with the banal,
readers will cherish these poems for their fine sophistication. Pellizon, who
won the prestigious Hollis Summers Poetry Prize for this collection, writes
with a striking sense of dignity about everything from the rotten fruit in her
father’s market to the weather and worship of Florence.

What unites this diverse collection is the integrity that infuses the subjects
of her poems. Hers is an elegant fabric of sound and sense, woven into the
construction of the complex sentence. For example, in “The Alembic” she
describes two old women, lost to desire, who have at last come to calm. “Then
sorrow’s distillate: /years of loneliness / which also burned / until it
chilled / and in them turned / to that keen tincture / where peace begins.”
Her diction is refined, her treatment cultured in the best sense and her formal
choices-though careful-never seem forced or contrived. In addition, the poems
in the series “The Body of Speech and Silence” sometimes take on a mystical
tone, reminiscent of some of the deep image work done by W.S. Merwin years
earlier. A scarf becomes symbolic of the psyche and “bears new seams each time
/ he rends it-then weakening, stitches the tear.” The ancient procedure of
mummyfying the body becomes a means of measuring the heart’s worth. Keats’
heart survives the body’s burning. The poems in this brilliant section will
remind readers that one great purpose in living is to speak for that human
heart.

Finally, in the last section of the book, a series of lovely sonnets “To
Vertumnus,” god of the changing seasons, trace Italian weather from October to
March, reflecting in the sun and storms the emotional weather as it is tied to
place. These are beautifully artistic pieces, filled with “wings clattering
like water on stone.”

Anne-Marie Oomen