by Patricia Fargnoli
A radiant, bravely reflective new book by a poet loved for poems that sing like psalms as they confront the challenges of persisting through time.
A radiant, bravely reflective new book by a poet loved for poems that sing like psalms as they confront the challenges of persisting through time. Following her award-winning volume Duties of the Spirit (also available from Tupelo Press), the recently retired Poet Laureate of New Hampshire reaches further and delves deeper than ever in Then, Something.
From “Wherever you are going”:
you will want to take with you the mud-rich scent breaking through March frost,
and the aroma of lemons sliced on a blue plate, their pinwheels of light.
you will want to take strawberries you have stolen from the farmer’s night fields,
and the sleepy child you lifted from under the willow where she’d been playing.
Praise for Patricia Fargnoli’s new book of poems:
“Patricia Fargnoli’s poems are vividly and gratefully aware of the comforts and assurances of the natural world; she does not miss a stitch of beauty, neither does she avoid the darker aspects of … human awareness of our continual aging, to which she gives sharp and poignant attention. I have been her champion since her first book Necessary Lightwas published, and I continue to be so.” —Mary Oliver
“I love … reading a sister or brother poet and being struck by some beauty or truth, or both, and leaning forward and asking myself, How did she or he do that? This is the experience Then, Something gives me, poem after poem. Fargnoli’s ability to see and connect with the world around her, in its motions and stillness, its darkness and brightness, is uncanny. These haunting poems give comfort even when they probe the inevitabilities of suffering, aging, death. Perhaps it is because Fargnoli loves life, no matter what. Perhaps it is because the poems are simply beautiful.” —Alicia Ostriker
On this day there is a great fire,
the people gather all their belongings
and go out into their village streets and begin
to walk away into the countryside.
Smoke covers their past lives.
Ahead of them, the road is empty to the horizon.
In the fields, the sheep bow their heads to the grass
as if nothing is the matter.
The road is impossible long, dirt, rutted, full of stones.
Nothing can be seen beyond the next mountain.
Eventually, the people get tired. Some fall
but the mass goes forward,
and some of the fallen stand again and struggle on.
I have to go down now
and mix in
and walk along with them.
Meditation at Dublin Lake
The landscapes we know are not
all the landscapes there are.
The spirit reaches after—
there must be more
than this lake its kaleidoscope of colors,
the monadnock that rises
already now-topped beyond it.
Where is the being within and without
over and under?
How could we know?
Even that wood duck wings into a farther air
and no matter what I cannot follow
through sometimes I believe I can and try.
I believe in the questions.
How many dancing universes? And how far?
How small I am under them—
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“Certainly, the lengthy majesty of her lines in this collection seems to take a metrical cue more from Whitman or perhaps Robert Hass than from either Frost or Oliver if we are to try to line her up in the canon where she definitely deserves a place” — Tim Mayo, Web Del Sol
“I loved this book and yet, found it difficult to find the thoughts, the words, to pin what it is that moves me when I read Patricia Fargnoli’s words. Her poetry leads me to a very satisfying place… I find myself seduced by the effects the poet’s images create and too, I’m charmed to not know just how it is she manages to weave this spell upon my mind.”—Moira Richards, Galatea Resurrects #15
“This poet loves lists. Here, she packs them with wonderfully precise sensory details that show the attachments,joys, and pain of a life lived with great appreciation of the natural world. Repetition gives her words an incantatory force….The appeal of this poem comes from its balance of the celebratory and the elegiac, the sensory richness that enables Fargnoli to affirm life even as she unflinchingly imagines its loss.”— Nan Fry, Poet Lore
“Blurring lines between reality and imagination, between what is and what is not, Fargnoli’s poems challenge the reader to ponder, question, and settle into the quiet unrest of unknowns… . Fargnoli’s world is complicated, beautiful, moving, and impenetrable. Her poems are the rain. We are the clouds.” –Lori A. May, Poet’s Quarterly
“In her third book of poetry, Patricia Fargnoli confronts the recesses of ‘heavy sadnesses’ with a crystallized lyricism and a sensual voice, deciphering the alternate worlds between nature and human, body and spirit. Even the title is prepositional, evoking a ‘somewhere’ that is beyond…. Gentle, cautious and mindful, each poem never invades the contemplative space of silence, nor the respectful realm of white and emptiness. From seemingly ordinary acts like walking the dog, watching the garbage man, observing the blue rain, or listening to a mockingbird, Fargnoli draws from quiet yet organic moments metaphysical questions of being to better understand — as well as accept — the time and space she approaches…. As compared to Fargnoli’s previous two volumes, this work experiments more daringly with disrupted poetic space and non-sequential narratives…. (L)ike all effective artists, her writing is simultaneously a catharsis and a means to assess and communicate the frightening as well as the inspiring.” – Cerise Press review
“While the sense of impending death is ever-present, the poems also convey a great hunger for life, for more of it. They are reflective, meditative, questioning. Not surprising then that Fargnoli uses questions as a rhetorical strategy. How fitting this is since the speaker is indeed questioning both her past and her future. This poet skillfully balances idea and technique and makes them work to support each other….
Technically, in this collection Fargnoli reaches beyond what she has done before. For example, the entire second section is comprised of one long poem in 15 parts. Fargnoli also invents a new form in “Lullaby for the Woman Who Walks into the Sea,” a stunning poem recently featured on Poetry Daily. Here we find a good example of how effectively repetition can be used in the hands of a master poet. The repetitions capture the relentless, endless motion of the sea and create a chant-like, pounding music.
We also find a greater freedom and flexibility in line lengths, in the use of indentations, and in the shaping of poems. We find less reliance on the left margin, a greater willingness to spread out and use the full page. (In order to accommodate the poems with long lines, Tupelo used a wider format for the book.) These technical flourishes underscore the sense of motion. Form and meaning come together as they should. The poem, “The Parents,” illustrates how Fargnoli uses indentations to support the poem’s meaning.” –Diane Lockward, Blogalicious