The Hardy Tree

Copper Canyon. Sept. 2019. 96p. ISBN 9781556595769. pap. $17. POETRY
Long a resident of the West Coast, Bierds (Roget’s Illusion; creative writing, Univ. of Washington) has enjoyed a quiet but blessed career. To the delight of discerning readers, she began publishing in the early 1970s (e.g., Flights of the Harvest-Mare), and she shares with Elizabeth Bishop, Lorine Niedecker, and Amy Clampitt a quality of careful and even minute attention to her craft; she sees more deeply and lovingly than almost any other living writer. This newest collection is haunted by the specter of gay mathematical genius Alan Turing even more than the title namesake Thomas Hardy; Bierds visits and revisits Turing’s guessed perceptions and the dreadful injustices done to him with the richest sympathy, perhaps to help us all expiate the wrongs he suffered. Bierds is unusually adventurous in her use of the ancient form of the cento, offering a grab bag of lines from other poets reintegrated into a new whole; her experiments here are among the best poems in the volume.
VERDICT Any new collection by Bierds is a blessing, and this one will not disappoint; her sensitive poems about Turing are lessons for aspiring readers or poets on the application of history to the creative impulse and power of poetry to illuminate the past.
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