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Willingly by Tess Gallagher
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Willingly

by Tess Gallagher

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201515,329 (4)1

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In Willingly Tess Gallagher takes mundane and painful events and turns them into beautiful poems. That's what good poets do.

Memory is a theme throughout this collection. She begins with "Maybe I'm seven in the open field-" as she goes on to describe running through the field as the rain begins, her head back and mouth open to catch the drops. In many of these poems she eulogizes her father's death, weaving together memories of fishing trips, farms, and hospitals. She writes at the end of "Boat Ride," "Good memory,/ if you are such a boat, tell me/ we did not falter in the vastness /when we walked ashore." In fact, several poems are about caring for others who are either sick or mourning, but she is never heavy -handed. There is always a sense of light in these poems.

And there is room for humor too. She meditates on the strangeness of long distance phone calls, and on a trip to Asia where she ate sparrow. In "Linoleum" she contemplates spirituality and materialism as she documents a journey to the grocery store.

She ends with a "Woodcutting on Lost Mountain," which captures a conversation and trip with her brother and niece to cut wood. Her brother has taken on traits of their father, and Gallagher sees herself in her niece. The refrain is "It's a wonder we ever grew up." ( )
  wilsonknut | Dec 12, 2009 |
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