cover image Little Girls in Church

Little Girls in Church

Kathleen Norris / Author University of Pittsburgh Press $14 (7

Norris, whose poetry collections include The Middle of the World, reached a wide audience with her prose memoir Dakota, A Spiritual Geography. Readers of that book will recognize here her closely considered relationship with the prairie; her persistent and delighted spiritual questioning; her respectful identification with other women both ordinary and extraordinary; and her joy in stories. She writes of love in various forms, without losing her sense of critical discernment. In a poem dedicated to poet Elizabeth Kray, Norris is at a funeral home, where taped music is played: ``violins sliding through `The Way We Were.'/ `Please turn the music off,' I said, civilly,/ to the undertaker's assistant.'' Civility marks her views here, whether she is imagining ``Young Lovers with Pizza'' or considering ordinary, luminous events in poems written for, and to, friends. Their apparent simplicity wrought with subtlety and resonance, Norris's poems are characterized by generosity and compassion, as plain and spacious as the prairie life that has engendered many of them. (June)