cover image Driving the Body Back

Driving the Body Back

Mary Swander, Author Alfred A. Knopf $14.95 (81p) ISBN 978-0-394-55008-4

In her second volume of verse, Swander presents a moving and highly original series of nine narrative poems about several generations of an American family. Using third-person narration, dialogue and monologues by different family members, the poet draws us into the lives, loves, births and deaths of an eccentric crew. Theirs is a hard-working farming family with powerful bonds to each other and to the landthe prairies and fields of the Midwest, where nature is at once a threat and a source of sustenance. We meet Aunt Nell, rooted to home and still raising chickens at 80; Uncle George, who weighed three pounds at birth and was put in a cake tin in the oven to stay warm; Uncle Jim, who opened a butcher shop as a result of bizarre circumstances; Grandma, lying on a cot in the cellar dying of cancer and wishing for raspberries. This is an accomplished collection. (March 19)