Academic journal article Hollins Critic

Not Hearing the Wood Thrush: Poems

Academic journal article Hollins Critic

Not Hearing the Wood Thrush: Poems

Article excerpt

Not Hearing the Wood Thrush: Poems. By Margaret Gibson. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2018. $18.95.

What busts you wide open gives you moments of surprising clarity, right? Margaret Gibson's previous dozen books of poems have all looked sharp-eyed at the world. This new one, shot through with the heart-busting realities of loss and vivid presence, is lucid, keen-edged, downright beautiful, tough. "Each day offers a vision," she reminds us, and with passionate dispassion gives us 51 pieces of precisely-chiseled evidence to support that claim.

Six of those 51 poems, including the last one in the book, are titled "Passage," with no distinguishing "I", "II", "III", or the like: they are stand-alones, threaded here and there through the fabric of the collection, but they are not differentiated in the ways that labels differentiate. In form ("voice" you might say, or "layout", to distinguish their fluid free verse from the otherwise-shaped and-paced fluid free verse of the remaining 45), they are one. With this smart gesture, as in the rest of Not Hearing, Gibson (who has chanted the Heart Sutra more than once) keeps demonstrating the paradox that is the un-ultimate un-reality: things are not, not essentially, yet here they are--perception-triggers, emotions, decodings, and the rest. …

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