Thursday, May 27, 2010
A Visionary Poet
Linda Gregg is a visionary poet. The fact that this is not immediately apparent constitutes the power of these extraordinary poems, poems that have been accumulating with a quiet, slow-burning majesty for nearly four decades. What strikes us first is the simplicity of means, the doggedly monosyllabic diction and the baldly declarative syntax. The means say: you may trust me, or, I will not lie to you. Then we feel the vivid inhabitation of lived experience, a human being speaking to other human beings about landscapes that, however exotic, we recognize immediately. The rocks, trees, and mountains are as familiar as love, longing, and grief. These fundamentals are Gregg's subjects, but we do not emerge from the experience of her poems possessed by usable wisdom; on the con- trary, we emerge disoriented, dazzled, our vision of the familiar world fractured into brilliant shards. "Something had happened," says Gregg in "Oedipus Exceeding": "Everything / was sacred. Air, goat, plants, people. / All full of worship." This is how we feel after reading a poem by Linda Gregg. Something—an exceeding—has happened. We want to feel it happen again.
"I consider Linda Gregg one of the best American poets, and I value the neatness of design in her poems, as well as the energy of each line." - Czeslaw Milos
"Too Bright to See was one of the most important first books of poetry to have come out in the last twenty-five years. Alma, first published in its own volume two years after, has become its necessary companion. Linda Gregg continues to be the builder of beautiful contraptions, poems built steadfastly by real life, bright and stark, truths told tranquil in unblinding light. It's a fine thing to have these two books back in the world, the visible world, bound together, lucid and legible as they are." - Lucie Brock-Broido