Friday, May 29, 2015

Anne Higgins' Reconnaissance - Review

My thoughts
I've always loved poetry and I always say to myself, "You need to read more poetry." However, I usually find myself reading more classic poetry, like Keats, Dickinson or Poe. I find myself lacking in the reading of contemporary poetry which is why I decided to join this tour for Poetic Book Tours.

I really enjoyed the wide range of subjects the poet covers in her poems. Anything from birds to driving in traffic. Very interesting and the poems almost made me feel like I know her personally.

I had two favorites in the book. The first is "Hearing Yesterday." I will share the last couple of stanzas from it here:

I believe in yesterday, 
which does not change,
where John Lennon still walks
out the door of the Dakota.

Another song says don't stop thinking about tomorrow.
But I believe in yesterday.
Another song says the landslide brought me down...
and I'm getting older, too,
so I believe in yesterday.


My second favorite I love because I can SO relate to it at this time in my life. It's called "Apology Poem" and I will share it in its entirety here:

Brenda Lee sings I'm Sorry in her halting voice, 
voice like a boy's, choking low like a tomboy's voice, 
harsh, halting, timbre changing,
please accept my apology....

Who's sorry now?
I'm sorry for the time I ran over the rabbit on the country road,
for never asking my mother about her childhood,
for not going to the eye doctor for five years,
until it was too late
sorry for all the times it was too late.

I'm sorry for selfish reasons,
for words that got me in trouble,
for words held back.

Sorry for negligence too global to mention.

Sorry I don't want to list any more.
Wishing I could pack up
all the sorrows
in some overlooked locker
in the far corner of a bus station
in a desert outpost. 
Sorry I wished for that.


I've always read that good poetry makes you feel. And that a poem speaks to the soul. I will testify that these two poems, especially the last one, spoke to my soul.

I really enjoyed this book of poetry and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading poetry.

Reconnaissance by Anne Higgins, a collection of poems published by Texture Press in Sept. 2014. Check out the early praise:

“‘The river flows by like a giant’s dream,/and if I dipped my hand in, what would come?’ writes Anne Higgins. Countless moments of wonder like this illuminate Reconnaissance, a collection that is both lovely and fierce. Elegant and precise descriptions of birdlife and gardens mingle with angry confrontations with illness and a tour de force poem about a catastrophic fire in a Catholic elementary school. A poet in full command of her lyric powers, Higgins also offers us jets of language play and splashes of Magritte-inspired surrealism. An eclectic collection of many pleasures and surprises.” — Lynn Levin, author of Miss Plastique

“Anne Higgins is a first-class observer of the natural world and a poet with poise and grace. In this excellent collection, she charts the habits of birds, imagines the lives of French painters, and reflects vividly on her own childhood. The poems in Reconnaissance embody their title: they are ranging explorations reported to us with intelligence and insight.” —Ryan Teitman, author of Litany for the City

“To say Anne Higgins is profound is to be embarrassingly reasonable. She comes alive in a sensory world liberated by ideas worthy of our love. Her excitement in living and dying changes all the complex problems turned to vexed questions. Hers is the predicament of a kind of faith otherwise forgotten in our cyber-fracture world. I’m beginning to think people are just born with faith in God (i.e., life, beauty, language, spectacle,) and if this is so, then the luckiest of them can take all that potential and show us what is possible.” —Grace Cavalieri, presenter for “The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress,” on Vexed Questions

Early praise for the book can be found in the The Hollins Critic magazine: “Reconnaissance is Anne Higgins’s seventh poetry collection. In it, she reconnoiters her past, significant events in American history (the assassination of JFK, 9/11, a fire in which twenty-eight eight-year-olds died), her diminishing eyesight. (In “Another Blind Beggar” she informs us that there is “a grey footprint in the center of my vision, / a grey cat sits in the center of the field.” She writes about life as a nun and favorite pop songs. There are poems about birds, insects, and her mother. In short, this book maps an entire life, the life of a vibrant, intelligent, and sharply observant woman. “Morning yelps with cold,” she writes, and we feel and hear the charged air, become conscious of the exciting chill.” — Review by Kelly Cherry

About the poet
Anne Higgins teaches at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md. She is a member of the Daughters of Charity. Her poems have appeared inCommonweal, Yankee, Spirituality and Health, The Centrifugal Eye, and a variety of small magazines. Garrison Keillor has read two of her poems on “The Writers Almanac” – on 10/8/01 and 8/8/10. She is the author of six previous collections of poetry. Check out an interview with her by Susan Smith Nash. Author photo by Michael Hoover.


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  1. Michelle, thanks so much for being on this blog tour for Reconnaissance by Anne Higgins. I'm glad that you were able to connect with the poems.

  2. Oh Michelle, that Apology poem is gorgeous and heartfelt. Almost brought tears to my eyes. What a find! I read some poetry for Poetry Month last month, Mary Oliver, and she was also a worthwhile, emotional poet. Thanks.

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