cover image Dearly: New Poems

Dearly: New Poems

Margaret Atwood. Ecco, $27.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-06-303249-1

Atwood (The Testaments) returns with a sardonic and sagacious masterpiece to add to her significant oeuvre. Fantasy, love, sex, feminism, and mortality are explored with discursive poise and narrative cohesion. Atwood has a knack for creating piquant emotional textures, infusing ideas, experiences, and objects with palpable life, as when she envisions the negative space that will remain after the death of her partner: “That’s who is waiting for me:/ an invisible man/ defined by a dotted line:// the shape of an absence/ in your place at the table,// ...a rustling of the fallen leaves,/ a slight thickening of the air.” Time is perhaps the most ubiquitous variable in her poems; Atwood fuses past and present, resulting in prescient nostalgia for the current moment and for the future. But there is hope here, too, in spaces created by voids. In “If There Were No Emptiness,” she writes: “That room has been static for me so long:/ an emptiness a void a silence/ containing an unheard story/ ready for me to unlock.// Let there be plot.” Combining dignified vulnerability, lyrical whimsy, and staunch realism, Atwood offers a memorable collection that emboldens readers to welcome disillusionment. (Nov.)