cover image All Souls

All Souls

Saskia Hamilton. Graywolf, $17 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-64445-263-9

The masterful fifth collection from Hamilton (Corridor), who died this year, explores the roles of memory, motherhood, reading, and writing in the arc of a life. Divided into four lyric sequences that offer equal parts self-reflection and intellectual luminosity, these poems richly capture shifts in thoughts, and questions and reconsiderations upon closer reading. She alludes to writers (among them Proust, William Cowper, and critic Christopher Ricks), creating a chorus of minds wrestling with existential and aesthetic queries (“Is there point to critical interpretation/ that gives us ‘what we all know already, what/ inescapably and instantly strikes/ the eye’ ”). Speculation is grounded in experience, “I spent the hours that season/ in a basement library magnifying/ Bishop’s hand ten times to read the word/ ‘tidal.’ ” The book’s final section, “Museum Going,” offers a memorable exploration of museum attendance, family memory, and Proust: “Our mother told us to stand anywhere in the gallery and the eyes of the young woman with the earring would find us”; “When my grandfather leaned on his cane, the floor would give a little.” Full of delicate and muscular truths and graced with rare intelligence, this posthumous volume offers the gifts of a uniquely sensitive mind. (Sept.)