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Book Review :: the verdant by Linda Russo

Guest Post by Susan Kay Anderson

Linda Russo’s The Verdant, 2023 Halcyon Poetry Award Winner, goes beyond usual eco-poetics to explore what it means to utter human sounds in wild places. In this case, the green world, the world away from plastics and electricity, becomes the focus, becomes the world.

The section called ‘Emergence’ is a long poem/poem series that makes up the book. Under the title/heading, “wild plum, western blue flax, wooly sunflower, come in,” Russo gives us what is essential about communing with wild places:

[. . . ] with rubbly tongue caressing grasses
dropping live seeds caught in songs

We are whisked away to a landscape which does not seem like this planet at all because it is so much the planet that we forget where we are. Russo speaks from the land and all its inhabitants as a being moving through the landscape in a unique way.

Inventive open form poems with lots of white space, careful construction of headings/titles at the top of each page, and a meditative feature at the end do not let us off the hook; we must participate in this world.

the verdant is what happens after spending time out-of-doors. The doorway of the mind is propped open, left open to possibility.

the verdant by Linda Russo. Middle Creek Publishing & Audio, March 2024.

Reviewer bio: Susan Kay Anderson lives in southwestern Oregon’s Umpqua River Basin. Her long poem “Man’s West Once” was selected for Barrow Street Journal’s “4 X 2 Project” and is included in Mezzanine (2019). Anderson also published Virginia Brautigan Aste’s memoir, Please Plant This Book Coast To Coast (2021).