Approaching the Fields: Poems

Louisiana State Univ. Feb. 2018. 64p. ISBN 9780807168295. pap. $16.95. POETRY
In her debut collection, former Stegner Fellow Feldman opens with a Southern landscape that's kudzu-lush and animated ("Even the road flinches// alive—a snake whips dust"). But she focuses on the human: "Forget the dead// stay down, they persist as haints." Here she recalls her share-cropping great-grandparents and grandparents, how "the year ended at the black schools in March" so children could work the fields, how she wore her father's old ties and made strawberry-rhubarb slurry with her mother, and how her family's life was shaped by Jim Crow ("separate entrances// at the doctor's/… or/ the places we knew not to go").
VERDICT A spacious, considered, and beautifully paced family account that, properly, is not chronological, as past and present, grandparents and children, are braided together. Feldman concludes: "I will die wanting/ To hear again my name in the mouths/ of my old women."

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