Tuesday, May 22, 2007



Whither Nonstopping by Harriet Zinnes
(Marsh Hawk Press, 2005)

In this latest of her many published books of poetry, Harriet Zinnes speaks with the wisdom of maturity. With eyes, heart, and spirit, she appreciates the substance and dream, the time and impermanence of life. Her credentials are impressive, her thoughts straightforward. Her message is that as humans we often struggle "to be in union with despair." Such struggles can be internal, as blood courses through our veins, or external, as we experience the "burgeoning unquiet universe."

For example, Zinnes remembers the evils and joys of love and lust in this excerpt from "The Doom of It:"

Hell has its sores
Love its wounds and enraptures

Zinnes constructs her poems with delicious zeal and chooses words with a sly craftsmanship. Consider this second verse of "The Poet Who is Anarchic" for example:

The poet who is anarchic
wades in churlish waters,
plays with deconstruction,
unhinges his tangled metaphors,
sweetens his fractured syntax
with a secret rhyme.

Everything in life experiences a transient existence. Zinnes captures such impermanence beautifully, surreally in "Cloud-Water" ("yun-shui"):

Nothing to hold onto
Nothing to declare
Clouds pass fathomless
Ghosts of no time
Water to be and be no more
Bodiless then -- without body
Of time and no time
even as bodies disappear

Critics have described the thoughts in this book as haunting, exhilarating, delicate, and unsettling. Whither Nonstopping has all those characteristics and more. Harriet Zinnes considers these fragile fragments of memory with care and compassion. Her work is highly recommended.


Laurel Johnson is a Retired Registered Nurse and the author of four books. She is Senior Reviewer for Midwest Book Review and Review Editor for New Works Review. Her poetry and prose can be found online in various literary e-zines. She lives in Kansas with her husband of forty-plus years.


Post a Comment

<< Home