Volume 9 (Spring 2015)

The third book of poems by Morrill, published in the Van K. Brock Florida Poetry Series by Anhinga Press, shows a maturity of mind most contemporary poets either eschew or haven’t arrived at. In the former case, it’s often the young poet who doesn’t believe it is possible to know anything after their sufferings or passion. The latter is often by the young poet as well.  Wisdom—and perhaps the famous fact that it is hard won—is seemingly not very hip, but it is what we strive for and maybe what we come to poetry for, at least in terms of those we call masters. And mastery is not showy, hip, boisterous. It is often humble and steady in its authority. These poems are that: not pyrotechnic, but assembled in the way mastery is evidenced and evident to those who value craft and time put in. Morrill is a poet’s poet. “Beside the mystery,” he writes, "our differences are slight, / though they compose the characters of our lives.” The lived life, one that has begun to face the fact of mystery, born much suffering (not a few of the poems speak to this essential aspect of the human condition), and found a way to become comfortable in the solitude of one’s own mind: this is at the heart of this collection.

 

Morrill knows that “poems are as impolite / as they are perceptive, as beside the point / as the actual”, and yet the going on is made, in part, possible by the writing, by the reading, by the engagement in all the “impossibilities.” In “Passing through Char,” he writes, “each step across the ash resurrects small bursts of smoke / and leads toward greener things.” He could be speaking of poems. He could be speaking of the ways we go on. These poems explore some of those ways and they do in form as well as content, with a wide range of architecture both vertical and horizontal and engaging the space of the page with a range of units of attention: word, line, sentence. The tone, however, is thoughtful and somber. There will be no lies, no tricksy strategies: what is a life? Lofty, evocative, exquisite, vivid, all of these and more, but vivid is what the book might be characterized as in its totality. For the intelligent reader.

 

     –Laura McCullough

 

 

Short-shot Review:

Awaiting Your Impossibilities by Donald Morrill

(Anhinga Press, 2015)