In her first full-length collection, Susan Meyers guides us through her examination of life's ordinary moments and the seemingly ordinary images that abide in them to reveal the extraordinary. From minutiae to marriage, crumbs to crows, nothing is too commonplace to escape her attention as she traverses terrains of childhood, loss, relationships, and death. Mostly lyrical and often elegiac, the poems of Keep and Give Away move along the rifts between the past and present, the lived and desired. The dominant emotions of the verses are deepened by observations rooted in our natural world, where birds are "yeses quickening the air" and the sky can "lap you up, and up." In the book's final section, marriage poems turn to fishing and gardening for their truths, contemplations that recognize the realities of a world governed by luck, imperfection, contraries, and—most of all—love.
Susan gives an overview of the book:
You sit on the front steps in love
with the little birds, the finches
& sparrows fidgeting from leafy cover,
not that they need you
cheering them on to eat the seed
at the feeders hung just for them—
sunflower, millet, a white sock of thistle;
but when the hawk lowers its broad
red shoulders and sits, alone,
on the limb of the cherry tree,
after the little birds, seeing it coming,
have scattered like ifs and whens,
you pull for the hawk, admiring
its heft, the turn of its head,
not to mention the unblenched eyes,
its black-banded tail. How could you not
root for this brown serenity lifting off,
grudgeless and oblivious to grudge?
Now the finches & sparrows are back,
with two chickadees, all astir,
flitting their soft agitation.
Once again you fall
for the little birds, their flutter
of yeses quickening the air.
Poet Susan Meyers, of Summerville, SC, is the author of Keep and Give Away, selected by Terrance Hayes for the inaugural South Carolina Poetry Book Prize and published in 2006 by the University of South Carolina Press. It also received the SIBA Book Award for Poetry...
Susan Meyers’ debut book of poems might as well have been titled “Contraries,” after the name of the poem most representative of the dominant thought behind the volume: the inherently paradoxical nature of...