Moving in Memory, Julia Randall’s sixth volume of poems, explores our relationship to nature, to art, and to our past selves. In these poems, Randall’s familiar terrain—the woods, streams, and fields of Maryland—becomes our own. She takes us “through the fields/ of Queen Anne’s Lace and clover,” through woods filled with rock maple and sassafras, to places she discovered as a child.
I am Piedmont born and bred
between far hills and sea,
great hardwoods overhead,
and waters gently
falling down the Bay
But these poems also express Randall’s uneasiness with trying to exist in a world increasingly divorced from nature. They spring from a sensibility that pits memory and its recovery in art against the encroachments of commerce and technology.
What shall restore
cedar and sycamore, sweet springs,
the secrets of the forest floor, where now
backhoes and scaffoldings
and gray computers set us free
to manufacture loves and lifeless things
along the steely groves where no bird
Unmistakably a lyric poet, Randall varies traditional forms in a way that is both reminiscent and original. Her musicality often surprises us into the recognition that poems can still sound like poems. In writing about place, memory, aging, and loss, Julia Randall displays a wide-ranging intelligence, a keen eye, and a necessary anger, as well as joy, humor, and acceptance.
Julia Randall is the author of The Puritan Carpenter, Adam’s Dream, The Farewells, and other books.
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