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Book Reviews

Selected Poems

The words adventure and poetry are rarely used in the same sentence, but are certainly apropos in Dara Wier’s Selected Poems. There are so many surprises in her work-the ideas, the imagery, the simple and imaginative use of language. Don’t get too relaxed, though, there are complexities in the Weir’s work that require one’s attention and thought, but the payoffs are well worth the efforts.

Selected Poems is a retrospective of Ms. Wier’s work from 1977 up to 2006 and provides an interesting literary trajectory of the author’s approach to poetry. It underscores how lyrical and well-developed her voice was, even as a young poet. Later poems reflect the added wisdom one would expect of such an adventurous (there’s that word again) mind. She examines the world around her as if she is seeing it for the first time and there’s a confidence in her vision that only years of writing instill in a poet’s voice. Wier is unafraid to push the envelope as well. In one of her later poems, there are over twenty pages of parenthetical phrases utilized, yet the notion of gimmickry never arises.

In an earlier poem, “Winslow Homer’s Blues,” Wier pays homage to the artist in ways that seem so right-stanzas of *mot juste-*yet have never been heard quite this way before. Here are the opening three stanzas:

Though the book was not meant

for me, it’s hard to resist

a man’s good art,

like resisting a sweet

and secret kiss, stolen

from or meant for another.

The poet sums up so succinctly the way much great art is viewed-that is to say, intimately, though the distance from art and the viewer is never denied. And isn’t that one of the great litmus tests of any poem? Or as Archibald MacLeish said in Ars Poetica: A poem should not mean / But be.

There are challenges here, to be sure. Plenty of humor, but no jokes. Prepare to dig into these poems, read them twice, three times if necessary. That kind of commitment from the reader will pay off with poems resonating throughout the days to follow. Let’s let Wier have the final say from her poem “Hidden Assets:”

The collapsed barn

down on Cemetery Road

has been burned down.

I love how you call it


Crumbling slates slake off

the broken-down rooftop

over the bedroom

where through its window

there by the bedside,

a glass of milk,

an open storybook.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author provided free copies of his/her book to have his/her book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love and make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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