Threading Light: Explorations in Loss and Poetry / Lorri Neilsen Glenn
Regina: Hagios Press, c2011.
This is a beautiful book, made up of essays, anecdotes, and poems, all linked together into one narrative. Some of the poems come from Neilsen Glenn's most recent collection, Lost Gospels (a book that I absolutely loved, by the way). And they all work together in a way that left me astonished by the power of this small book.
More than a memoir, this is a look at loss, from childhood experiences of death, to adult losses. It is also a meditation on poetry, and how prose and poetry can act as secular prayer, as secular comfort in loss.
The interconnectedness of the writing works very well. The reader can process each essay/poem on its own, before moving on. The language and the content both call out for slower, focused reading and this is facilitated by the format. I found that I read slowly, marking passages, and thinking about how this book connected and expanded on other reading I've been doing.
Some of the striking lines I found:
Memory is a cracked bowl, and it fills as it empties. Memory is what we create out of what we have at hand -- other people's accounts, objects, flawed stories of our own creation, secondhand tales handed down like an old watch... To write is to fashion a bowl, perhaps, but we know, finally, the bowl can not hold everything.
Art grounds our grief in form; it connects us to one another and to the world. And the more we acquaint ourselves with works of art -- in music, painting, theatre, literature -- the more we open ourselves to complex and nuanced understandings of our human capacities for grief. Why else do we turn to a stirring poem when we re mourning? Why else do we sing?
It was a beautiful, thoughtful read. She has a way of sharing Deep Thoughts about life and art which is very compelling and sits right on the edge of painful and beautiful. My very positive impression of her writing that I received from Lost Gospels, the poetry collection that was my first introduction to her work, was made even stronger by finally reading this volume. This is a book that I think will most definitely hold up to multiple rereadings, there is so much to it, so much to ponder for anyone interested in the area of grief or loss or even the healing power of poetry.
I strongly recommend this one.