Your Enzymes Are Calling the Ancients

Persea. Oct. 2016. 80p. ISBN 9780892554768. pap. $15.95. POETRY
As its title suggests, Donovan's demanding yet eminently satisfying new collection, a Lexi Rudnitsky Editor's Choice Award winner, limns our connectedness to a larger word. Her cosmology isn't sentimental but tough-minded, opening with a series of poems responding to Ogham, the Old Irish alphabet. Though she might initially picture each letter as a plant or star, her descriptions aren't so much physical as metaphysical, showing us as embedded in the world yet reaching outward in intuitive understanding. "You do not know how to point to or define the meaning,/ …and yet is it more certain for you than the sensations of your senses" says one Ogham poem, while another celebrates a mythical creature that survives consumption by fire, embodying the "substance fundamental of the cosmos." Elsewhere, the speaker paddles down the Chippewa River, contemplating physics; examines the logic of linkage ("under soldiers roses Under roses ship// …Under the onion the notonion"); and, in a tour de force finale, offers an energetic spill-forth that moves from pitch, dried blood, and sparrow breast to dancing a fandango as it catalogs a colorist's toolkit—and Donovan's own.
VERDICT Also a Juniper Prize winner for her first collection, Fugitive Red, Donovan is clearly a keeper. For all sophisticated poetry readers.
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