Winter Recipes from the Collective: Poems

Farrar. Oct. 2021. 64p. ISBN 9780374604103. $25. POETRY
With her 13th collection, Nobel winner Glück (Faithful and Virtuous Night) returns to the spare, whispered lyrics for which she is known, poems that gently probe the borders of knowing (“we cannot be certain/ we have yet to experience the end”) and express the simple but startling revelations that come with age (“There is no one alive anymore/ who remembers me as a baby”). They might take the form of curiously disembodied conversations—with a sister, friend, teacher—or of fairy tales peopled by real humans “waiting to be transformed” in ways that remain unknown, undefined. Fleetingly, sometimes wittily philosophical (“Insight, my sister says./ Now it is here./ But hard to see in the darkness”), Glück measures the weight of the external world against the interior’s (“How heavy my mind is,/ filled with the past./ Is there room enough/ for the world to penetrate?”) and—alas—finds it wanting: “And I say I’m glad I dream/ the fire is still alive.”
VERDICT Inherently reticent, like oysters opening ever so slowly, these poems are reluctant to display their pearls, but patient readers will discern an opalescence they may have missed on the first reading.
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