extensive and satisfying collection of
poems by the dearly loved poet, Annie
Finch, sets before the reader new and
selected works, all of which are
Yes, under the more common definition of
the word "spells," these poems bid a
state of enchantment and contain magical
powers. And, clearly, Annie
Finch's poetry provides the rhythms of
incantations; her words—the way they
hold concepts—are magical.
But, the word "spells" has other
definitions that this collection
fulfills. Older meanings of the
word relate a "spell" to a study or an
investigation. A form of
poetic science, then, Annie Finch's
poetry proffers an opportunity to apply
the mind to considerations of the
natural world and its relationship to
the human reader. Take, for
example, the first stanza of her
rhythmic incantation, "This Land."
As I went walking in the land of
I found the animals crying.
Their mouths and warm bodies
were sudden and slow
And they moved slow and hard to
the edge of the woods.
Their legs and their heartbeats
and skins were dying.
They curled up like snails at
the end of the world.
spell" also means to talk, and in
numerous poems here the poet addresses
the reader, sometimes using the 2nd
person form, "you," to create an
intimate conversation. Take, for
example, the following poem which
A Blessing on the Poets
Patient earth-digger, impatient
Hungry word-taker and roving
Sharer and saver, muser and
You who are open to hide or
Time-keeper and hater,
May language's language, the
silence that lies
Under each word, move you over
Turning you, wondering, back to
book is well named SPELLS, then.
For the reader spends hours enraptured,
informed and suspended in a heightened
conversation offered through Annie
Finch's enchanted poetry.
—Reviewed by Mary Ann Sullivan