Oyster Boy Review 08  
  January 1998
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Anthems of an Uncut Field, by Danielle Truscott

Florence Nash

  Anthems of an Uncut Field.
Danielle Truscott.
New Native Press, 1997.
87 pages, $9.95 (paperback).
ISBN: 1883197155

It is a favorite grumble of mine that a lot of people writing poetry these days are apparently indifferent to its music. If a poem's substance is sufficiently poignant, polemical, or confessional, then the sound of the words themselves-chant and chime and assonance and resonance-seems hardly to matter. Well, here's a strikingly musical book which courts the ear no less than the eye. In Anthems of an Uncut Field, her first collection of poetry, Danielle Truscott plays the language like a harp, luring the reader with her melodious if sometimes difficult conceits into a surreal emotional landscape: "golden sea- tambourines / seeding lost pomegranates . . . thousands of devoured trees / wailing behind mirrors." And: "Here your glass hills shatter / into grassed kaleidoscopes / of ragged light."

Most of the poems in this collection are similarly lush with imagery. And there are poems like "Call It Alice," a long, amiably quirky poem in very short (one- and two-word) lines, colloquial and wry. And "Fiona's Tale," a savage and funny diatribe launched by the birth of a girl-child. Here the voice is human rather than instrumental, rising and falling not all that far from the reader's ear. I wish more of the poems in this book revealed the elusive "I" in these pages. Truscott's image-painting is just dazzling, but here and there the vital expressive spark seems at risk of being overwhelmed by the sheer richness of craft.

This must be why I love to read poets' journals and letters, where we have the benefit of the poet's acute eye and sensibility, but without the concealing art. I'd like to leaf through Danielle Truscott's diary. Failing that, though, I certainly am happy to discover her poems, which are always impressive and frequently quite beautiful.