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Book Review :: Loss/Less by Rebecca A Durham

Loss/Less poetry by Rebecca A. Durham published by Shanti Arts book cover image

Guest Post by Jami Macarty

The beautifully sounded, ecologically aware, and botanically influenced poems of Loss/Less, Rebecca A. Durham’s second collection, is, to my read, not so much interpretive of loss related to climate crisis, but intends to be reconciliatory: “This is how I enter the forest & this is how it enters me too.” Combining the geological and botanical with the plaintiff and ecstatic, the collection conjures Rumi and Thoreau. One way to read the book is as one long poem, an epistle to Thoreau, challenging his words “nothing could defile this pond.” The poet wonders if the transcendentalist knew that was a “lie.” Is Durham a new transcendentalist in her asking “what kind of extinction is this”; in her call for “a moratorium on cement or at least errant elements”; her command “uncut / all those holy trees”; her recognition that “we are illicitly complicit in disaster”? Like Thoreau, perhaps even if Durham knows it is already “too late,” her poems insist:

this is how we kneel
at the hemlock

pulled back
from the brink

pulled back from the helm
of helplessness, hatred

(from “Arboreal Burial,” 77)

Call to action, educational primer, love song, the poet calls on the many gestures of poetry, creating if not an abundance, less loss. What remains? Loess, a windblown sediment, or as the poet writes: “I gather bitter fruits / map my fissures.” What else is there as “we are primed for decay’s reticent elegance.” A special and compelling book!

Loss/Less by Rebecca A Durham. Shanti Arts Publishing, January 2022.

Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems are forthcoming.If you are interested in contributing a Guest Post to “What I’m Reading,” please click this link: NewPages.com Reviewer Guidelines.

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