One of a handful of poetry books that I've read in recent years, that I can fully endorse. Courageous, graceful and all its own. Marvelous work. Baranow is the real deal.
Like a younger and more sensuous Mary Oliver, tracking and inventing her way through themes of love, death, nature, family, solitude, Joan Baranow turns and returns to lyric as to a quenchless source. To listen to her music -- precise and rich -- is like overhearing the multiple hum of life and loss in a complicated natural environment. What is that environment? "What does it matter if beauty / walks in the woods or dwells only / in the neural channels of the mind?" In Baranow's poetry, it does both.
The words of Joan Baranow's poems seem inevitable, set down on the page with the greatest of care, as though they'd been forged in a great pressure. And because the words and lines have this sense of sincerity and surety, as well as a wonderful balance of strong image and equally strong discourse, I am completely willing to travel wherever the poems take me. Such faith is necessary, too, for none of her poems shy away from the isolation inherent in our human condition, nor from the terrible risk we take when we dare to love -- her love poems of section II are among the very best I've read in a long, long time.
Ibsn: 1-891386-11-5, 76 pages, $14.95
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