Saturday Review: “Clarity, Consolation, and the end to Definition” a review by David E. Poston in NCLR Online Fall 2023.
Wild Liar (2023) by Deborah Pope
Polishing the Glass Storm: A Sequence (2023) by Katherine Soniat.
To begin, Poston writes, “Their new collections show how they create noteworthy poetry and to explore similar themes and questions, even as they employ markedly different poetic techniques” Both of the poets do not shy away from sensitive topics such as death, grief, and reincarnation.
Poston describes Pope’s Wild Liar as, “wry and playful, to poignant and confessional, always with subtle command of language, pace, and form.” In the first section, Poston comments on the poetic craft within the poems by saying, “Its sonic devices – internal rhyme, alliteration, assonance – are a delight to the ear.” Poston continues, “The opening playfulness turns to longing,” and, “The sense of loss is tempered by whimsicality.” Pope also dives into topics such as the portrayals of female figures from myth, art, and history, then goes on to state, “The books final section continues to explore memory, moving through grief in solace, often in familiar North Carolina locales: Black Mountain, Topsail Island, Raleigh’s venerable Angus Barn steakhouse.”
Soniat advises Polishing the Glass Storm: A Sequence “is best read sequentially within each section . . . and also from section to section, as one reads a novel.” While the format of Soniat’s poems may seem tricky to read at first, one will quickly realize that she not only makes art of the words she uses, but also where and how she places them. Poston states, “Rather than expect a beginning or an end, expect to find scenes of grief and suffering mixed with images of profound lyric beauty.” Poston goes on to say, “Everything in these poems is at once personal and universal, idiosyncratic and archetypal, ephemeral and eternal.”
Poston ends with stating, “Both these poets address the grief, the suffering, and the joys of this life, and both in their own ways look to the transcendent. There is much to admire in both these collections. Foremost, in Popes case it is the clarity of observed detail; in Soniat’s, it is the expanse of vision, leading us to, if not acceptance, at least an awareness that transcends the need for definition.”
Read the entire review and buy the books from your local independent bookstore.