cover image On the Other Side, Blue

On the Other Side, Blue

Collier Nogues, Four Way (UPNE, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (66p) ISBN 978-1-935536-07-9

Nogues's debut quietly but squarely takes on death, family, place, landscape, history, love, marriage, though grief ties them all together, providing not only identity but also genealogy and community throughout the book. Although Nogues begins with her own bereavement following her mother's death, she is as much an observer of mourning as a participant in it, charting the similarities and variations of grief's progression in a lover, family members, strangers, neighbors. The book then moves from death to a sort of rebirth, ending with a warily hopeful epithalamion in which "[t]he promise absents a fear/ which had been helpful/ in its way but can now be discarded." Finally Nogues's observation of loss gives way to connection with landscape and the natural world; in her best moments, Nogues counterbalances elegy with trust in plainspoken description, yielding nothing short of wisdom: "[i]t's not true/ to say there's light behind those trees. Those trees/ are all there is." In careful lines and with a particular, wry Western twang, Nogues works her way out of mourning and back into a world of living things. (Apr.)