Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pamela Uschuk’s Blood Flower

Pamela Uschuk’s new collection, Blood Flower, published by Wings Press, is a reflective meditation filled with deliciously strong narratives that carry themselves from poem to poem. The sturdy and gentle presence of the speaker anchors me in this bounty of luminous words. The beauty of nature, the desert; its music, shines and glimmers like hard stars through these pieces. Blood Flower is a place where “snow drops love notes from the dead/no one wants yet to open…”; “Spring is the dream of the self/split by the Dogwood bud...” and “…the white wolf/ is the question mark of a ghost/praying for the resurrection of the sun…” There is such striking beauty in these passages and it is an honor to share them. While reading, I found myself pleasantly drowning in a fresh pool of lush words.

In Blood Flower, Uschuk explores familial traditions and heritage in poems like “Red Menace” and “Black Swan.” There is also a somewhat political bent in this book. I am reminded of the work of Uschuk’s friend Joy Harjo, as Uschuk is protesting and reflecting on war, while at the same time celebrating “…the frail architecture of grace” and moments “…when the earth sinks/to its hips in the rare currency of peace...” She reflects on America’s and Russia’s war-torn history, and her own family’s Russian history. She urges us to travel back to our roots and our own stories. In the poem “Wildflowers” she talks of her grandmother who told her that “…wind scoured words from your head/blowing stronger each year” the implication here being that we must tell our stories before they are lost and forgotten.

In the opening poem, “A Siberian Cold Front Takes over the Last Week of April” Uschuk says, “I fall daily in love with impossibilities” and in other poems she is “…awakening beneath the healing wheel of stars” to “the wild meteorology of the heart.” So are her readers when we happily sink into her book. In the poem “Thorn of Devotion," Uschuk tells us that a poet’s heart is one that “cannot stop walking…” Walk on, Pamela. Walk on!

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