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Michelle Taransky, Sorry Was in the Woods


Omnidawn, 2013

Unlike Frost, who stopped himself from entering the woods out of fear, Taransky’s latest sends her headlong into darkness and deepness:

Waiting at the gate for you To fall having already forgotten How you swore the sentence Was meant to Be joined with That sentence.

Charged by their contradiction, Taransky's woods are a place of concealment and revelation, a place where "we have a machine / We cannot explain." And hauntingly, they are the same place that allows her to arrive at the words she is seeking as she moves through them: "I am looking for a language / With a word that means / We must see it all / Differently." As her poems begin to grow in length and urgency, Taransky brings readers to a place of absence, demonstrating the effects of deforestation and the demand for fuel upon a community who knows "war increases their / Need for wood."

Her unflinching look at a natural world humans nurture and destroy—while attempting to stop themselves from "using the chair" created from wood "as a metaphor"—strikes at the heart of Taransky’s irreconcilable use of the word sorry. If readers will admit to themselves that "the best tree / Is sick now" and "discuss / Where to look,” it’s imperative in these poems that another admittance is how “that sickness is the other / Sickness."

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This review was published in American Poet, Volume 44, Spring 2013.
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