SONG OF THE WORLD BECOMING: New and Collected Poems 1981–2001

Pattiann Rogers, Author SONG OF THE WORLD BECOMING: New and Collected Poems 1981 $30 (550p) ISBN 978-1-57131-413-0

Encompassing two decades of poetry and seven previous books of poems, Rogers's latest replaces the new and selected Firekeeper from 1994. Taken one after another, Rogers's poems read like a series of witty but deeply felt naturalist essays, exuding much observational care and descriptive panache: nature's "binding signature contained in the agitation/ of poplars taken by the wind, in the sucker-/ tipped tube feet of the slender purple/ starfish, in the release of midnight's/ cry by root cricket, by poaching owl." For Rogers, our predatory universe testifies to the presence of a God neither benevolent nor condemning—the deity just is. Close observation of creation becomes both an act of prayer and an honoring of the world through the poet's own redemptive logos. What is lacking is the negative capability of a Marianne Moore or the more grounded wonder of a James Wright. Rogers simply appropriates nature as divine evidence, lyric proof to sustain her own faith, in a manner similar to Annie Dillard. Some of the poems end up sounding like moral tales for children ("Everybody knows the sun, every/ body in the whole world no matter who"), and the poems that deal overtly with the erotic (most famously "The Hummingbird: A Seduction" and "The Power of Toads") can seem devoid of shadow or experiences rooted in darkness. Rogers would rather celebrate in the light, reveling in the powers of the body and the imagination; like-minded readers will respond. (Mar. 29)

Forecast:Rogers has a strong following on the reading circuit and in naturalist circles. Yet the appearance of this collected, a relatively scant seven years after the selected Firekeeper, won't be enough to generate the sort of national reviews it seems designed to provoke.

Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
Genre: Poetry
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