cover image A Fine Canopy

A Fine Canopy

Alison Swan. Wayne State Univ., $16.99 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-0-8143-4806-2

In this investigative, thoughtful debut, Swan carefully constructs an arc of grief and transformation through a wide range of poetic forms, including lyric strophes, tercets, couplets, and luminous fragments. The poems are unified by a recurring interest in the relationship between interior and exterior, and the porous boundary between the self and the world. As the book unfolds, the “red-winged blackbirds,” “train whistles,” and “passerines” that surround the speaker are subtly transformed by her wild flights of imagination. The speaker observes in “Succession,” “Wildflowers/ replenishing a charred mountainside/ offer answers, ways of seeing and being/ that affirm silver linings: the fuchsia-blue/ flare of fireweed and the promise of cones.” This poem reads as an exploration and interrogation of the way the author’s mind projects onto external objects, and the myriad ways the world may be changed by the observer’s psyche. “What sort of life inures one to the relief/ of knowing things we cannot see,” Swan asks. Teasing out possible answers to these questions, Swan offers a subtle consideration on the natural world through accomplished poetic craft. (Oct.)