Litanies Near Water
LSU Press 2008
Infused with Mediterranean landscapes, the poems of Paula Closson Buck’s second collection probe the world through language that acts sometimes like a divining rod and sometimes like a lightning rod. Elegant meditative lyrics such as “You Cannot Love the Wind” and “Theory of an Impersonal God” answer to politically alert poems like “Monk Killed by Tractor in Bid to Dodge Police.” Ultimately, in Closson Buck’s deft hand, the lyrical quest for understanding becomes a form of diplomacy between the physical and the metaphysical, between instances of beauty and the violence that threatens daily.
“[These] poems have all the properties of the ecstatic: incantatory grace, devotion to the particular, a desire to see beyond. But in a world where violence continues to dominate consciousness, whether at large in the form of genocide and war, or in our own backyards in the relentless patterns of nature, the ‘beyond’ seems a luxury that Closson Buck must resist: ‘Anything / but ecstasy I can believe.’ These poems are as tough-minded as they are beautiful, and they are very beautiful. But it is their proximity to silence–that particular silence we find at the heart of great poetry–that imbues them with extraordinary power and resonance.”
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Read poems from Litanies Near Water:
The Acquiescent Villa
LSU Press 1998
In her first book of poems, Paula Closson Buck writes the way Picasso paints — with slanted angles of approach and departure that give us the human heart passionately at work. A restless explorer of the world as body, the body as world, she is acutely aware of the ways in which language creates and sustains these spheres, bringing them sometimes into collision, sometimes into balance.
“The celebration in these poems is so probing and relentless it approaches an incandescence of mind itself. But it’s never pure. The impure, that is, the world in its materiality, is always hugely present in Closson Buck’s lines. What a gift.”
–Li Young Lee
“These are powerful, daring poems, and a new voice is immediately audible in them. They are original in that they speak with authority out of one life, the light and hope and pain that play through it, the moments and singular details they touch upon. The Acquiescent Villa is a remarkable debut, and Closson Buck, I believe, is already a poet to read with care, and to watch for.”