A Feature Review of
Gold: Poems (Poiema Poetry Series)
Paperback: Cascade Books, 2014
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Reviewed by Kendra Juskus
In the Preface to Lyrical Ballads, William Wordsworth wrote that “the poet has “a disposition to be affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present.” In Barbara Crooker’s poetry, everything is present. In the poems of her latest collection, Gold, published by Cascade Books as part of the Poiema Poetry Series, the world is so irresistible that her speakers and characters eat it alive, smacking their lips.
This urge to savor everything has much to do with the intersection between Crooker’s chosen epigraph—Frost’s familiar “Nothing gold can stay”—and the loss of her mother: “We only have one mother,” she poignantly reminds us. But mothers aren’t the only precious metals in this book. Crooker’s speaker also scrambles to hold onto “blue afternoon[s]”; “a spigot of birdsong”; “the long slow drip of honey and molasses”; “the hoots and calls of [her husband’s] breathing”; and “coffee in a mug, buttered toast, the same old sun returning.” However Crooker may live the present moment, her words inspire nothing less than a desire to be fully absorbed in the fleeting world.