cover image The Wet Collection

The Wet Collection

Joni Tevis. Milkweed Editions, $20 (174pp) ISBN 978-1-57131-303-4

Tevis's writing, a showcase for her interests in religion, memoir, natural study and women's history, is precise and unique, and in this collection of musings, she builds big ideas out of small fragments. She captures, for instance, the attitude of a modern airplane passenger (""Today I'm a traveler, a person suspended. Today I'll do only what is asked"") as well as that of a long-gone pioneer (""They left in a hurry, most of them, as if they'd hung on as long as they could, and when they finally gave in, they didn't have a minute to spare""). Tevis's range is impressive: her sardonic recollection of her work as a funeral home salesperson makes for a fun essay, while in another piece she imparts a singular voice in imagining the thoughts of a farmer's wife. Some of the pieces are too brief to make an impact, but even in the shortest, Travis shows a poet's care for cadence and word choice. Far from the typical memoir or essay collection, this volume showcases a unique, meticulous and inviting voice.