Out of such juxtapositions of desire and fact, brutality and beauty, Barr builds stanzas as solid as silk-curtained walls. Her strange music is made from syllables, from vowels and consonants that crackle and click together and sometimes collide, like the opposites they name.
The word ‘gathering’ in the title suggests copious embrace rather than selfish acquisition. The final poems in the [last] section lay bare a dense eroticism that has always been in the shadows. These intimate moments are rendered in the same even tone, the same steady unfolding of the declarative sentences, as if the speaker will not be distracted by another’s desire, nor even by her own.
One of the bracing things about this intricately woven, sometimes gorgeous, sometimes obscure collection is that it reminds us that travel takes place in many dimensions at once, that ‘foreigners’ are often rebuffed whatever their intentions, that cultures can be as impenetrable as our own lives, that we’re all foreigners, and that good traveling, like art, is a kind of luck.