Denise Low’s Mélange Block maps a vivid landscape of Native American and settler lives. High Plains country, volcanic fields, wine country, and ghost towns are among the sites where Low casts spells of her beautifully felt language. Natural processes, like crystallization and aggregation, appear as topics and then reflect in the language itself, which becomes its own geography. Through her lens, the American continent patterns a new poetics in this innovative work. Every conscious of her identities as a person of Native and European heritages, she navigates through past and future until they join in one continuous history. Rain Taxi’s reviewer said of her work, it is “surgical with the familiar and charming with the ancient.” Midwest Review of Books notes her “talent for tilling the surface and digging deep beneath topsoil to unearth legacies.”

 

Denise Low’s poems have the effect of intensifying everything:  nature, history, even the present moment.  Her language has had its soft fascia removed from around the muscular nouns, verbs and vivid images.  “Particles vibrate,” she says and shows, “inside limestone ledges.”  These are tough poems, in which every single word has an edge.  That’s the message, here, whether the subject is ancestry or “fog over asphalt.”  Take the eye of the backyard fox.  Take the silicate grasses.  Line by line, Denise Low elevates and thereby honors the details of our lives and our land.  She has created poetry anew, right in our midst; as she, herself, would vividly say, “Weathered outbuildings shelter crazy prophets.”

                                        — Robert Stewart, editor, New Letters

 

 


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