How To Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons): Poetry

Harper. Sept. 2020. 128p. ISBN 9780062993083. $24.99. POETRY
Award-winning novelist Kingsolver’s second book of poetry (after 1992’s Another America) contains seven sections covering everything from how to marry, to what Vincent Van Gogh may have said to his mail carrier (based on his painting of Joseph Roulin in the Barnes Museum), to a family reunion in Italy, to the ways trees communicate with one another, as in the poem, “Forests of Antarctica,” in which Kingsolver muses on trees that existed thousands of years ago before the trials of Socrates and were “ringed with moss” by the time Jesus walked on water. Most of the poems are written in blocks of free verse, with some of them set up like prose poems. The exception is “Insomniac Villanelle,” which discusses who to read and what to think about when you cannot sleep and which exhibits the musicality—repetition, rhyme, and meter—one associates with the form.
VERDICT Ranging from the title’s numerous lessons to a reading list for insomniacs, the poems in this genial new volume generally exude a pleasing sense of mystery, as exemplified by those in the final section, “The Nature of Objects.” Appropriate for most collections.
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