Saturday poetry pick: Spectral Waves

book coverYears ago, I had the honor of participating in a Crab Creek Review/A River & Sound Review reading with Madeleine DeFrees–a wild and exhilarating night. But it was a delight to sit down this week quietly with her book Spectral Waves, from Copper Canyon Press, and savor her words and images, and the way she weaves themes throughout the collection.

These poems bring you along easily, like a spider in its glistening web, and then they stay with you–you’re caught in the most delicious way. In many, the tone and rhythm are familiar, a kind of comfort. Often meditative, and sometimes a little sassy. For whatever reason, I felt like I was back in Nelson Bentley’s classroom in the 1980s.

At the same time, these poems ask hard questions that faith must ask, investigate, dig deep into the unseen and what is seen–sometimes with harrowing clarity, a tension especially in the poems about vision, about losing eyesight. So much of this book is about seeing.

I loved the ekphrastic poems–the “Poetry of…” poems that open the sections and fold in the words of others, and the villanelles that speak to paintings by Georges de la Tour. Then, there’s “A Crown of Sonnets for ‘The King'”–about Elvis!

But the poem that stayed with me the most, as I set the book down and did the laundry, made dinner, was “After a tearful morning.”