Wednesday, September 6, 2023

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Anne Whitehouse poetry book Steady - Reviewed by Andrew Taylor-Troutman

Oppressive Liberation: Sexism in Animal Activism - book review by Gregory F. Tague

"Zelensky's Passion" - Poem by Nina Tassi (video)

Lichens by Vincent Zonca - book review by Gregory F. Tague

Justice for Animals by Martha C. Nussbaum - book review by Gregory F. Tague

Space Races by Anne Whitehouse

A Better Ape by Victor Kumar and Richmond Campbell - book review by Gregory F. Tague

Tribute to Dr. Kathryn Coe

An Evolutionary Case for Veganism

Is there moral justification to eat meat? Read Gregory F. Tague's answer to that question in the Ecological Citizen

Animal Crisis: A New Critical Theory by Alice Crary and Lori Gruen

Carlo Alvaro, a Philosopher of Virtue Ethics, Comments on Cultured Meat

The Creative Lives of Animals by Carol Gigliotti - book review by Gregory F. Tague

Metamorphoses by Emanuele Coccia - book review by Gregory F. Tague

Growing Up In The Ice Age by April Nowell - book review by Gregory F. Tague

A paper, by Gregory F. Tague and Sintia Molina, on the cultural ecology of food in the journal Environmental Sciences Proceedings

Charles Darwin - a biography by J. David Archibald - Reviewed by Gregory F. Tague

Art and Adaptability: Consciousness and Cognitive Culture by Gregory F. Tague

On the Animal Trail - Review by Gregory F. Tague

Arrest Fauci? - Opinion Essay by Ryan Ritchie

Ghosts of America - Novel by Caroline Hagood - Reviewed by Mitch Levenberg

Wattana: An Orangutan in Paris by Chris Herzfeld - Review by Gregory F. Tague

An Ape Ethic - Extended Abstract Essay - in The Montreal Review

Bird Cottage by Eva Meijer - Review by Gregory F. Tague

Speak the Word - Music and Lyrics by Vaneshran Arumugam

Patience is a Virtue - Waiting Poems by Isabel Rimanoczy

Skaidrite Stelzer, Digging a Moose from the Snow – Book Review

Story of Jimmy (video)

Anne Whitehouse poetry book Steady - Reviewed by Andrew Taylor-Troutman

Anne Whitehouse, Steady. 2023. Loveland, OH. Dos Madres Press. 206 pages. $22 U.S. paperback. 978-1-953232-83-8

Though the title poem in Anne Whitehouse’s collection is offered near the end of the book. I couldn’t help but turn to it first. “Steady” is an elegant, if simple poem of three stanzas with four lines in each. Lovely, I thought, then returned to the beginning of the book.
Whitehouse’s book has four sections, each titled for the first poem: “Morning Swim,” “Signs,” “An Art Story,” and “Blue.” Readers begin this journey with “Morning Swim,” a short poem that dives deeply into paradox: “What seems like silence / Is full of sound.” Other poems in this section often deal with water and death, perhaps another paradox (if one thinks of water as the necessity of life). The last line of “Morning Swim” references “endless waters,” which are suggestive of mystery and transcendence, that are simultaneously (paradoxically) “cold, healing, and bitter.”

Such complexity is further explored in the second section. This opening poem, “Signs,” suggests the COVID-19 pandemic (“The enemy is the invisible virus”) and other poems have temporal markers as well, suggesting the poet wants to ground us in the particular. In addition, I observe titles make direct reference to literary giants, Auden and Dante, and one epigraph cites Psalm 23. Though famous people and texts suggest grandiose topics, many of these poems center on quotidian subjects (a necktie, a book case) and everyday people. The idea seems to be that such ordinary people and things point (or signify) greater truths and realities: “a celebration of imaginary / over the mundane.”

The third section of Steady is longer than the previous two sections combined. These poems alternate between first- and third-person narratives of the lives of Ruth Asawa, Leonora Carrington, Lee Miller, Iris Origo, Imogen Cunningham, and Frida Kahlo, whose picture is the book’s cover. Whitehouse writes a kind of historical poetry, obviously well-versed with the lives of her subjects. Yet in another “celebration of the imaginary,” she blends the artists’ own quotes with her own imaginative leaps about how they might have thought and felt.

I was struck that the lives of the artists highlighted in the third section of this book are anything but “steady”—they have health crises, accidents, infidelities, pain, and triumphs. I went back to the title poem, “Steady,” and its profundity became clear: “Another form of steadiness / is simply not to fall … change happens to us all.”

If the third section shows this kind of steadiness in the lives of famous people, then the fourth section reads as if Whitehouse has applied and played with lessons of perseverance and paradox in her own life. This short, final section is filled with simple delights, which remind me of poet Ross Gay. From Gay, I learned the insight that the prefix de- can entail an absence—“de-light” could mean the removal of light. This apophatic approach characterizes much of the poetry of this section. My absolute favorite, “Bridge Over the Nosterkill,” describes glimpsing a beloved person “out of the corner of my eye,” but instead of interrupting this person’s singing, “I listen without seeming to.”

After reading and re-reading the entirety of this elegant collection, I deeply appreciate the delight and power of Whitehouse’s poetry. Steady is rarely preachy or didactic. Profound, paradoxical truth about the “change (that) happens to us all” is communicated through subtle observation—the sidelong look and overhearing of “Bridge Over the Nosterkill” may be likened to the “slant truth” that Dickinson described.

The final poem, “Late Summer, Block Island,” includes a blessing that comes from the “beloved haunts of my essential solitude.” Whitehouse is clear-eyed about the difficulties of life, including suffering and grief, yet finds a reverence and awe worthy of sharing.

- Andrew Taylor-Troutman is pastor of Chapel in the Pines in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and the author of seven books, including Tigers, Mice & Strawberries: Poems.

Copyright©2023 by Andrew Taylor-Troutman. All Rights Reserved.