cover image How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)

How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)

Barbara Kingsolver. HarperCollins, $24.99 (122p) ISBN 978-0-06-299308-3

The contemplative second book of poems from Kingsolver (Another America) will surprise none of her prose fans with its concerns for the natural world, as well as its optimism. There are “How to” sections (“How to Love Your Neighbor”; “How to be Married”; “How to Give Thanks for a Broken Leg”) of mostly one-page lyric poems, as well as two sections that are poems unto themselves: “Pellegrinaggio,” about bringing her mother-in-law to Italy to revisit the woman’s childhood home, and “Where It Begins,” a six-page prose poem about knitting. In “How to Have a Child,” Kingsolver writes: “Everything that can wreck a life/ has been done before,/ done to you, even” and in “How to Cure a Sweet Potato,” she asks the reader to “bear in mind.../...all the times/ you wanted to be starchy but were made to be sweet.” Kingsolver delivers the collection’s memorable message of hope and responsibility in the final poem, “Forests of Antarctica”: “You are the world that stirs. This is the world that waits,” distilling a life lesson learned with eyes and heart wide open. (Sept.)