It is an honor and a delight to introduce these new poems by Kathleen Peirce. I’ve long admired her body of work for its gratifying denseness and complexity, which inevitably becomes an invitation to the reader. In each poem, we transition among an impressive multiplicity of conceptual vantage points in the space of only a few lines. Peirce’s intricate, undoubtedly elegant poems allow these divergent possibilities, and luminous contradictions, to strike sparks against one another.
What’s more, this proliferation of meaning emerges because Peirce is brave enough to follow the imagination to its utmost limits. When reading her books, one is reminded of the way a thought held long enough in the mind becomes a pearl, compressed and shimmering, held still for a moment under the pressure of a darkening sea.
Peirce’s new poems offer a truly refined variation on what is already an accomplished body of work. Her spare, singing lyrics present us with a carefully curated vocabulary of imagery, tracing the orbits of a “single uncut tree” into the “afterlife” and beyond. This intent focus and luminous attention to detail reveal an entire “flock” hidden within only “one bird.” Here Peirce shows us that every “gesture,” however subtle, contains within it the world.