The Solace of Islands by Ansie Baird
|The Solace of Islands||Ansie Baird||BlazeVOX [books]|
“Scanning the dark” is often what Ansie Baird is doing in this rich new collection of poems that open into emotional terrain in which her only compass is a mix of intelligence, clear-sightedness, and the power of exact articulation. These new poems chart a lifetime’s emotional journey–open to pathos, humor, and above all compassionate understanding. What strikes me again and again is the inimitable authenticity of her voice, and the resilience of a spirit finding the right words--so truly personal feelings are neither self-indulgent nor self-regarding. “Holding On” is the title of one of her poems, but the phrase grounds a great many of them and the emotional temper they embody. In all of them, she walks her elected territory with sure formal steps, and--oddly enough--with her own brand of undeceived optimism: traversing the dark, singing her own song. “This radiant world is good enough to keep,” she says in her title poem. And we know she means it.
Although the title poem of this collection presents her overlooking the Aegean Sea, and the last poem leaves her hiking a murky trail at daybreak, Ansie Baird’s poems tend to congregate around her house and garden in the heart of Buffalo. Whether she is listening to her father’s wordplay or her mother’s laughter, chiding her contrary sister or her distant husband, sending billets doux to a lover or elegies to departed friends, she finds herself at home: the house of poetry provides permanence in flux, sheltering, delimiting, concealing. But the windows are open and the back yard is full of trees: so she also finds herself at home in the world.
I recently read, The Solace of Islands, by Ansie Baird, student of John Logan in the 1970s and active Buffalo poet for nearly 40 years. I found her imagery striking. The wave of the hand in her poem “En Route to Algeciras” has hold in my mind. It will not exit. These days, after many years of reading, this is what I hope to find in poetry. The Solace of Islands is focused and deals thematically with various forms of loss, aging, death and abandonment. The poet is master of her craft and poetic magic manifests in each poem. The magic is all the music of the poetry. Without question, the theme of this poetry is solemn, but there are sparks of humor and tenderness that light the way through the musical landscape. An island is, of course, an enclosed space, a protected place, for poet Ansie Baird the place of the very human heart.
Ansie Baird teaches at The Buffalo Seminary, is a former editor for Earth's Daughters, has taught for Just Buffalo in their Writers In Education program, and participated in the Albright-Knox collaborative entitled: A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words. Her work has been published in The Paris Review, Western Humanities Review, The Southern Review, The Denver Quarterly, Poetry Northwest, The South Dakota Review, The Quarterly, The Recorder, and a number of other journals. In addition, her work has been included in The Paris Review 50th Anniversary anthology from Fall 2003 and several more recent anthologies. Her book, In Advance Of All Parting, won the White Pine Press national poetry competition and was published by White Pine Press in 2009.
· Paperback: 102 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books]
· ISBN: 978-1-60964-242-6