The poems in Fanatic Heart, Deboarah Pope’s remarkably accomplished first collection of verse, are distinguised by their sensuouis language, assured voice, and surpassing intelligence. “These are poems with a definite edge to them,” notes the poet Betty Adcock. Memory and identity, family and place, lives that encompass both “the wingsweep of joy” and “the fierce hug of grief”—these are Pope’s concerns. Hers are poems of pain and loss, but they are also, and more tellingly, poems of wonder, of love and passion in their various guises, of the ambiguity in every human relation—an ambiguity skillfully avoked in “Signs”:
In these woods we have chosen
with scarcely more knowing
than we chose each other,
porspects will always promise
more than they come to.
The solidity of this house is surface,
the permanence of anything is myth.
We take our visions edged,
at home in a light that curves.
Still, as they gypsies say,
The poems are set in a carefully articulated natural world, those sensual beauty Pope caputres in such lines as these from “Peaches”:
They will be all over the ground,
gold-dusted, giving softly
under the balls of our feet,
size of apricots, no good for eating,
but the smell will be
Deborah Pope’s poems give voice to a life deeply felt and fully realized, whose very personal yield universal claims. At the heart of this poetry’s fanaticism is the search for fthe ground of intimacy and the configurations of identity. It is a measure of Pope’s skill that each recognition seems powerfully right, not sought but given.
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