Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

New Tracks, Night Falling

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

New Tracks, Night Falling

Article excerpt

New Tracks, Night Falling. By Jeanne Murray Walker. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdinans Publishing Company, 2009. 86 pp. $16.00 (paper).

Jeanne Murray Walker's seventh book of poetry is a vibrant gift waiting to be unwrapped by the reader. The poems in N etc Tracks, Night Falling are rooted in the challenges of our contemporary world, but they take us to higher realms of hope and wonder. Walker's inviting, accessible poems speak to readers from many walks of life, offering compelling questions and a source of light for our troubled times.

Walkers volume is divided into four sections that trace its thematic movement: "Separations." "Choices," "Tracks," and "Resolutions." As the poet explains in the books preface, the psychic landscape for this new volume took shape after September 11, 2001, in the midst of her worry "about how driven by fear we are in this country, and how divided. . . . There's talk about a flu pandemic and infections against which we have no antibiotics. VVe are becoming aware oí how, by abusing nature, we are permanently changing the earth and its weather. It feels like night is Í ailing" (pp. xi-xii). Walkers journey originates when she poses this key question to herself: "How can I write about what divides us? These are gigantic matters of the soul" (p. xii). Yet she meets the challenge beautifully, moving from "separations brought by war and illness and death" t h mugli an array of choices, personal and historic, to the pursuit of new tracks glimmering in snow, and finally to hard-won resolutions. And she does so in poems that are timeless, extraordinarily wellcrafted, and richly musical.

Walker moves seamlessly between the personal and public, touching her readers on both counts. In a world where the news is a "gospel of atrocities" (p. 6) and we have "made / separations our thesis" (p. 7). every decision, no matter how individuali ? ingrained, takes on an interpersonal and transcendental significance. In the poem "A Sign." for example, the speaker anguishes over whether to help a stranger who, claiming his car broke down and his wallet was stolen, asks for twelve dollars to get to his destination. …

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