I'm thrilled to find Sarah Venart's fine new book, I AM THE BIG HEART, in the mailbox. I walk back to the house so absorbed in it I forget to check the pines that line the lane for the owl that sometimes waits there, watching.
Thrilled because it was fourteen years in the making, Sarah says, at times with much uncertainty over whether it would get made at all. Thrilled because I got to watch some of the poems taking shape (see Sarah's revision worksheets for four poems, from draft to publication, here).
The cover is unsettling and beautiful, and the book is thicker than I'd imagined - partly that luxurious paper all Brick's books are printed on, partly the hospitable distillation of a whole lot of thoughtful and passionate and sometimes resistant living.
Hospitality, especially when it feels like invitation, is one of the best things to find in a poem. When the poem goes "here's what this is like for me; how is it for you?" I feel a little more alive. Sarah's poems do this over and over.
They risk and play and dare me to go in close.
They're not afraid - or, when they are, they face it.
They're faceted: tender, comedic, unflinching, bare. Some hold injury and manipulation up to the light for scrutiny (The Widening; How It Worked; Stun Guns). Some hold their own trembling, their own joy (Dénouement; Lambing Season), grief and love.
I look up: it's late afternoon. The owl is calling.