Saturday, April 18, 2009

Weaving the Light: review and launch

Mary Ruth Donnelly's Weaving the Light has drawn the attention of Midwest Book Review, which notes it is "a strong pick for those looking for women's poetry with a Midwestern flavor" and that its appearance is yet one more entry "into the fine Midwest Women Poets series."

Read the review here:

This seems a good occasion for a look back at the book launch event held in early March for Weaving the Light. Rick Spencer provided an introduction to the full house at the event. Rick, formerly part of the notable (and, regrettably, no longer published) Delmar Magazine, now teaches philosophy at Southwestern Illinois College. He's given permission to republish here his remarks introducing Mary Ruth Donnelly’s readings from Weaving the Light:

I don’t know why Mary Ruth has such a love for landscape: why she is drawn to riverbanks and plains, the cup-like hollow of a garden, the shape of a road in the hills. But she is. Perhaps it was her upbringing in Kansas City—another river city—a city near the Great Plains? Maybe it is some spatial gene she inherited from ancestors whose lives were all too influenced by the horizon? Nevertheless, it is a theme in her writing: both her prose and her poetry. Her sensitivity to the land lets her see patterns of landscape in film and literature. In poetry, it pushes the levee into the title and the mountain into the metaphor.

I do know why she writes of painful things, of loss, of tears. Poetry is one of the natural habitats for tragedy. In its environment, lamentation is never likely to become an endangered species. But, for an eye sensitive to landscape, poetry becomes more than a place to enshrine that bitter moment we can’t forget. It becomes the place to show us the truth of our losses: the fragility of this life, the vulnerability of us all, the mystery of fate, and the miracle of our carrying on.

While there are many other themes in her book, these two, landscape and loss, standout. Sure, there are trees and women, museums and mammals, art and architecture. However, I am captivated by the beauty of these two.

Then again, I, too, am entranced by the mountains, and made humble by the sky over the plains. I, too, attend to the lessons of my loss, the sacred truths inside of sadness.

It is a wonderful book. Some of the poems I witnessed as the driver, or navigator, of a car in a storm. Other poems are from places I don’t know. Still, they are as familiar as my own home, with its porch light and peeling paint—a welcome banner to me alone. This is to say these poems speak to me. I think they will speak to you as well.

Thank you Rick. Well said.

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