Selected Articles

See my review of W.S. Di Piero's TOMBO at http://therumpus.net/2014/12/tombo-by-w-s-dipiero/

 

See my review of Leonard Gontarek's He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Needs

http://therumpus.net/author/a-v-christie/

 

Read my profile of Elizabeth Spires from Ploughshares

http://www.pshares.org/read/article-detail.cfm?intArticleID=4798

 

Read my review of Now the Green Blade Rises by Elizabeth Spires

http://vq.vassar.edu/issues/2003/02/beyond-vassar/about-books.html

Now The Green Blade Rises
Poems by Elizabeth Spires ’74
W. W. Norton & Co., 2002

In the book On Longing, the poet Susan Stewart studies meticulously our need for mementos — the small, yet hungry mechanics of nostalgia. We all make our humble shrines to memory, but what provokes our cherishing of this or that framed photograph or the need to preserve that corsage in the attic? Stewart reminds us why nostalgia is a small and flawed thing.

Book cover
Book cover
Elizabeth Spires’ volume of poetry Now the Green Blade Rises— her fifth — yearns, really, for a way to make memory a more living, generative principle. She applies the demands of her intelligence, her eye, and her lyric gifts to this, her own type of study.

The book’s introductory poem visits Robert Frost’s cabin. We hear in it echoes of Frost’s own poem “Directive,” and when Spires writes, “Past time is with you always, always here,” we are made very aware of time’s overlappings, of an “unceasing flow” and pervasive life-rhythm about which we can do almost nothing.

Spires has long observed the qualities of such progressions. She stands poised in these poems between a daughter on one side and her own dying mother and friends on the other. She is keenly aware of her place between and in time. Spires’ vehement awareness of the patterning calls to mind an image in the memorable poem “Glass Bottom Boat” from her third book Annonciade:

Suddenly a shadow parted the school—
as if a cloud had just blotted the sun—
a barracuda swerving as they swerved,
and nothing they could do.
After it fed, the two halves joined,
the missing ones unmourned,
all as it was before.

Spires witnesses what is awesome: the repeated display of nature’s powers and energies, but also what is profoundly perilous and fragile.

She asks many questions in the face of this riddle of time playing out its patterns. She turns to nature for what it may know, and thus contributes to our knowing — to the dogwood tree, the rock wall, mountain, lake, cloud, the tides, “The swollen moon floating in a pool,/disappearing, coming back.” Or she reprises a few lines from Homer, threads their truth into now, makes them sing again to show us what timelessness means.

Spires’ poems encourage us to bring some knowledge onward and outward from memory, from this “rushing stream of years.” In the poem “Cemetery Reef” she writes, “Everything was changing to memory.” This could mean merely more loss, grief, nostalgia — more elegies. But Spires suggests it can be more: “In these poems, I was aware of poetry as a kind of ongoing conversation — the voice or voices in the poem talking back and forth, and not just with the living.”

These poems feel often in their cadences “like the sound of time itself.”

— A.V. Christie '85

- See more at: http://vq.vassar.edu/issues/2003/02/beyond-vassar/about-books.html#sthash.TUCQz1z5.dpuf

Now The Green Blade Rises
Poems by Elizabeth Spires ’74
W. W. Norton & Co., 2002

In the book On Longing, the poet Susan Stewart studies meticulously our need for mementos — the small, yet hungry mechanics of nostalgia. We all make our humble shrines to memory, but what provokes our cherishing of this or that framed photograph or the need to preserve that corsage in the attic? Stewart reminds us why nostalgia is a small and flawed thing.

Book cover
Book cover
Elizabeth Spires’ volume of poetry Now the Green Blade Rises— her fifth — yearns, really, for a way to make memory a more living, generative principle. She applies the demands of her intelligence, her eye, and her lyric gifts to this, her own type of study.

The book’s introductory poem visits Robert Frost’s cabin. We hear in it echoes of Frost’s own poem “Directive,” and when Spires writes, “Past time is with you always, always here,” we are made very aware of time’s overlappings, of an “unceasing flow” and pervasive life-rhythm about which we can do almost nothing.

Spires has long observed the qualities of such progressions. She stands poised in these poems between a daughter on one side and her own dying mother and friends on the other. She is keenly aware of her place between and in time. Spires’ vehement awareness of the patterning calls to mind an image in the memorable poem “Glass Bottom Boat” from her third book Annonciade:

Suddenly a shadow parted the school—
as if a cloud had just blotted the sun—
a barracuda swerving as they swerved,
and nothing they could do.
After it fed, the two halves joined,
the missing ones unmourned,
all as it was before.

Spires witnesses what is awesome: the repeated display of nature’s powers and energies, but also what is profoundly perilous and fragile.

She asks many questions in the face of this riddle of time playing out its patterns. She turns to nature for what it may know, and thus contributes to our knowing — to the dogwood tree, the rock wall, mountain, lake, cloud, the tides, “The swollen moon floating in a pool,/disappearing, coming back.” Or she reprises a few lines from Homer, threads their truth into now, makes them sing again to show us what timelessness means.

Spires’ poems encourage us to bring some knowledge onward and outward from memory, from this “rushing stream of years.” In the poem “Cemetery Reef” she writes, “Everything was changing to memory.” This could mean merely more loss, grief, nostalgia — more elegies. But Spires suggests it can be more: “In these poems, I was aware of poetry as a kind of ongoing conversation — the voice or voices in the poem talking back and forth, and not just with the living.”

These poems feel often in their cadences “like the sound of time itself.”

— A.V. Christie '85

- See more at: http://vq.vassar.edu/issues/2003/02/beyond-vassar/about-books.html#sthash.TUCQz1z5.dpuf

 

See an excerpt of my interview with Elizabeth Spires

http://business.highbeam.com/138289/article-1G1-16764489/power-visible-invisible-interview-elizabeth-spires

 

See my review of Stanley Kunitz's  Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected

The Chicago Tribune

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1995-12-31/entertainment/9512310041_1_stanley-kunitz-poems-new-late-bloomers

 

See my review of  The Best American Poetry

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1995-01-08/entertainment/9501080076_1_poems-david-lehman-american-poetry