Plumly (Orphan Hours), in his posthumous 12th collection, studies his own mortality “like a man in love with something,” as he writes in “With Weather.” In clear-eyed and powerful page-long lyric poems filled with questions and wonder, he takes readers from his Ohio childhood to Europe and into the natural world. Plumly’s life crossed with several other poets mentioned and conjured here, among them Galway Kinnell, Gerald Stern, and Wallace Stevens. Nature and memory are beautifully captured throughout, as in “Germans,” a memoir piece about 11 WWII prisoners-of-war who helped out with his family’s lumber business in Virginia. “It takes time,” he notes, “by hand, to humble a tree.” In “White Rhino,” the poem that opens the collection, he wonders, “How long a life is too long.” In that poem’s final lines, he describes the rhino’s “great heart lifted down,/ the tonnage of my heart almost more than I can carry.” That line echoes through the deeply felt poems and prose pieces of this meditative collection. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/10/2020 Release date: 08/18/2020 Genre: Poetry
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.