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Sunday, March 1, 2015

KIRKUS Reviews CULLING: New & Selected Nature Poems by George Held

Culling: New & Selected Nature Poems
by George Held
Poets Wear Prada, 2014

Reprinted from KIRKUS,   


Held’s (Neighbors: The Yard Critters Too, 2013, etc.) poetry collection praises the natural world and issues a dark warning about climate change.

Beginning with winter, Held takes the reader through the changes of the season and divides his collection accordingly. In poems such as “The Snow” and “Crow(s),” Held speaks simply but precisely of the reliable darkness and quiet of the winter months. In “The Waning Moon,” he voices a late-winter feeling that the season will never end, wondering, “Will life renew in spring?” Like Henry David Thoreau in “Walden,” the author meditates appreciatively on nature. For example, in “April,” Held recalls his springtime chores and rituals that leave him with sore shoulders and splinters, but which he longs for in the late winter. In “Green Again,” he recalls the restorative nature of spring, comparing a tree’s transformation to art—“leaves uncurling along every twig, / like daubs of paint in a Monet.” The ruminations also contain crucial warnings about climate change. For example, the apocalyptically titled “Glacial Warning” begins with sobering statistics about the rapid rate at which Norway’s glaciers are melting. In “Sad Birds,” Held mourns the results of the BP oil spill while darkly satirizing the thought of a BP executive lost in the wreckage. Held also looks beyond the hurricane season, examining the wreckage that such weather leaves behind while considering “the cost / of putting stakes down near the coast.” Throughout, Held includes a few one-off poems that are not as strong or poignant as the others. In one, Held makes light of a tick latching onto a hiker, writing, “her blood will require a regime / of Penicillin to combat her Lyme.” Overall, the work is strong and strikes a fine balance between meditative appreciation and concern, capturing nature’s splendor while noting its impermanence.

A closely observed collection on nature and environmentalism.

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