cover image CALENDARS


Annie Finch, . . Tupelo, $14.95 (70pp) ISBN 978-1-932195-00-2

In her third full-length collection, Finch focuses on the cyclical and seasonal, centering on themes of birth, death, family and artistic lineage, sexuality and female spirituality. Following the poems of Eve (1997), the poetics of The Ghost of Meter, and the anthologizing of An Exaltation of Forms (2002) among other books and translation work, Finch here moves through traditional and invented forms, chants and refrains, makes addresses to poets of the past, and at times deploys an exaggerated musicality that is less archaic than rooted in obsessive repetition. In "Paravaledellentine: A Paradelle," for instance, the speaker sings, "Move me the way the seas' warm sea will spend me./ Move me the way the seas' warm sea will; spend me./ Move your sea-warm come to me; will with me; spend/ tender sounds, warning me the way of the seas, the seas." Some of the most compelling poems here explore the interplay of multiple voices; in the title poem, the voices of Demeter, Chorus, Persephone and Hades chant in alternation. Other successful poems move between a voice and an echo—a doubt, a qualification or a redirected train of thought. While poems centered on (and titled after) "The Earth Goddess and Sky God" or "The Menstrual Hut" can seem more a part of a personal cosmology than a space readers will want to approach, Finch almost always draws one in with an unnerving and utterly unexpected phrase or image, as when addressing "The Moon": "Then you are the dense everywhere that moves,/ the dark matter they haven't yet walked through?" Such moments seem to contain the full duration of this book's calendars. (June)