Mid Drift is Kate Hanson Foster’s first book of poems. Written in free verse, the poems are lyrical, dark as they plunge into snapshot memories of her past, and powerful. The poems take place in the city, at night, circling images of water, particularly of rivers, and the narrative, though only seen in glimpses, reveals a betrayal, an affair. Lowell is a recognized influence, in the last poem “Dear Lowell,” where the speaker claims, unconvincingly, to plan to leave the place she has written about so meticulously in poem after poem. The line in “Mill City,” “My mind is filthy with old, dear secrets” encapsulates the book—the speaker simultaneously holds the past “dear” yet recognizes it as “filthy.”
The speaker begins a number of letters to God—“Dear God:” is a phrase that occurs in several poems in the collection, but the thought is often left unfinished. It is first seen in the first “Prayer” poem in the book, where the speaker muses on “what has gone wrong with [her] life.” Never coming to an answer, she instead turns further inward, analyzing her prayer to God as a “hymn that tolls and darkens” or a “church bell shaking / off the birds.” Her poems on family in the second section carry the same tone, hinting at suicide and mental illness “running in the family,” speaking, never quite directly, of the death of close relatives.
Mid Drift is from a distinct perspective, a distinct place. There is the mill, the river, the dark city—the writer never abandons those elements, while still exploring variation, primarily through structure and lyric rhythm. It is a cohesive, lyrical first book of poems, the first of what I hope are many such collections from Kate Hanson Foster.