BOOK REVIEW
 


Wesleyan

$30 Hardcover
236 pages
 

ISBN-10: 0819572691
      ISBN-13: 978-081957269

 

This 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 "spells."

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 our heart,
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.

"To 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 addresses poets.
 
  A Blessing on the Poets

Patient earth-digger, impatient fire-maker,
Hungry word-taker and roving sound-lover,
Sharer and saver, muser and acher,
You who are open to hide or uncover,
Time-keeper and hater, wake-sleeper, sleep-waker;
May language's language, the silence that lies
Under each word, move you over and over,
Turning you, wondering, back to surprise.

This 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
    May 2013