Bodwell’s Crown of Wild, with its gorgeous cover of an abstract painting (by the poet’s late father), is an exciting reminder of our own moments of wild abandon and others’ wild abandon gone right/gone wrong. In “Summertime” we get to read a list of pleasurable freedoms: “. . . swim the length of every pool . . . / . . . French kissing Matt Matera . . . .” later becoming abandoned to the larger universe as this poem closes. What are the answers, this poem seems to be asking. Can anything be held and kept, or is even capturing memories an act of abandon as this very idea is also in survival mode?
I’ve been reading these poems with the cover in my mind. Its brushstrokes seem to be a visual companion to the pain of grief and anxiety of what now overwhelms: forest fires, death and abuse, a madman at the helm.
What does abstract art do but tell a story in a different way, a way that leads to musings and fresh starts? There are no easy answers.
In “Where Rivers And Mountains Remain,” one of the poems in Crown Of Wild paying homage to Kayla Mueller, the captured American woman who was held and died in Syria, we see wishes for Mueller: ” . . . silvery dreams” and ” . . . a crown woven from stars” as gentle acknowledgements and gifts of praise.
What Bodwell constructs in Crown Of Wild are sculptures and sketches and shapes so each poem can express what was unthinkable. Where will the brush go? What color will it pick up as it merges and is dragged through what is already there? What is soothed? Stirred?
These poems do not need explanation, they seem to be saying. They stand alone on their base, on that which protects and extends and illustrates what is “wild” to what is really wild and beyond our imagining. They say here is beauty and the redemption that moonlit/starlit rivers and mountains bring because they remain after all that has happened, is happening.
Crown Of Wild by Erica Bodwell. Two Sylvias Press, 2020.
Reviewer bio: Susan Kay Anderson has work forthcoming from Loud Coffee Press, Sleet Magazine, and Finishing Line Press.
Buy this book from our affiliate Bookshop.org.