August 2017 - Between the Pages: Summoning
This collection of poems by Jeanne Shannon leaves the reader stunned by her ability to evoke universal emotions of longing, beauty, pain, awe, and pure joy. Her imagery and attention to detail blended with her obvious love of the natural world takes us on a visual journey where less is more and where words become a vehicle through which she allows us access into her very soul. Jeanne’s worldview has a visionary aspect that is timeless. The book is divided into six sections: “Dissolving Forms,” “The Colors of the World,” “Honey Locust,” “Summoning,” “Etude: Prime Numbers,” and “Of the Hours, Seamless.”
In “Dissolving Forms,” the author looks beyond “the scrim of what seems to be” to explore the mysterious, the metaphysical, and the (perhaps fluid) boundaries of time and space.
“The Colors of the World” looks at visual art, music, color, and the phenomenon of synesthesia, a condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when hearing a sound produces the visualization of a color (something Jeanne Shannon experiences).
“Honey Locust” moves through the yearly cycles of the natural world, from January’s “Moon of Popping Trees” to a December noon, from Jemez Springs, New Mexico, to Dungannon, Virginia.
In “Summoning,” Shannon travels through the past, looking at the fairground carousel of her childhood and at moments spent with her favorite uncle listening to songs on his car radio. “When Panthers Roamed in the Blue Ridge” is a meditation on her family’s life in rural southwestern Virginia in the 1940’s. In other poems, she goes back to her days as a college student studying music at a small women’s college in the 1950s and imagines Europe on the eve of World War I and the stars as they may have been ten thousand years ago.
“Etude: Prime Numbers” offers a meditation on each of the prime numbers from 2 to 97. Each entry has the number of words that corresponds to the number itself; that is, Number 2 has an entry of only two words, while the entry for Number 97 is 97 words. There are references to concepts in science, religion, and metaphysics, and to mysterious phenomena such as the crop circles that appear regularly in English grain fields.
“Of the Hours, Seamless” is a collage that blurs the boundary between poetry and lyric essay. It is a long journal entry recording the author’s reflections and preoccupations on a spring day in 2002. It features fragments of newspaper articles, excerpts from letters and phone calls, and notes about books, movies, stars, planets , and the mystic anchorite Julian of Norwich, who “could keep a cat for company, but not a cow.” It also offers advice to writers, including the admonition, “Write when you have something to say.”
New Mexico/Arizona Book Award winner for poetry