In her debut collection, Sarah Ens pulls the reader into a very contemporary world grounded in the natural but wonderfully tuned to the metaphysical. The book’s first section evokes a prairie girlhood of fields and silos, and games that signal dawning awareness of both intimacy and mortality: “we tore mittens thundering / up icy bark” (“Always Trees with the Almighty”). Through the eyes of Ens’ speaker, abuses come to light, and we begin to feel the pressures young women face: “desperately wanting to dig it even deeper” (“Straddled”).
Danielle Janess’s debut poetry collection is a richly layered exploration into dark reaches of family history and inter-generational repercussions, largely from the perspective of a WOMAN searching for clues about her Polish GRANDFATHER while she and her CHILD are living in post-Wall Berlin. Yes, the upper case is intentional: a “cast list,” tellingly labelled “Displaced Persons” rather than “Dramatis Personae,” appears at the front of the book, and the characters’ titles are capitalized in a number of the poems.
Jane Hirshfield has said that “a poem of beauty has at least one foot standing in sorrow.” This is certainly the case in this new collection by Miller Adams. There is sorrow aplenty and the book is replete with writing of great beauty.