Pray Me Stay Eager: Poems

Ellen Doré Watson. Alice James, $15.95 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-1-938584-68-8
In her lively and thoughtful fifth collection, Watson (Dogged Hearts) considers the characteristics of and what is contained within such grand abstractions as loyalty, humility, disquiet, and jealousy. To unpack words that try to abstract “everything,” Watson includes three “Field Guides to Abstraction” and odes to several specific concepts. One Watson prizes appears in the penultimate poem: “I want eager. Pray me. Astonishment. I’m courting/ this best of abstractions.” Other poems feature list fragments, dialogues, proofs, and prayers. These poems can be remarkably sassy, as in the closing lines for “April Eclogue,” when Watson writes, “You say we’re all shameless with it—ongoingness./ I sigh, set my jaw, I mean to green into my wreckage.” She simultaneously attends to words and wordplay—and the larger narratives set up by such titles as “Learning to Sail at 57 on Father’s Day.” Towards the end of “Hermitage” Watson writes, “This is not strictly a story”—and she’s right, it isn’t. These poems are musical meditations on what cannot be narrated, but must be prayed or sung: “I who don’t pray/ want to prayer you to the next/ world, wondering will I be this/ stubborn?” (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/20/2017
Release date: 01/01/2018
Ebook - 978-1-938584-73-2
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