Poetry by Laura Donnelly. Winner of the 2013 Cider Press
Review Editors’ Prize.
Lovely and urgent in their strangeness, the poems in Laura Donnelly’s Watershed conjure spaces to dwell in and return to, spaces of astonishment held by a deft ear for inner experience and a numinous power to sense back toward the ancestral, never “forgetting even our not-knowing,” and calling upon us “to grasp/barefoot the breakwaters/ and fossil ourselves to that wall.” To read these lyrics is to want to flesh out and stay here, woven into her artful and sensitive music—”to move through this world in waves, my love—it’s a wonder we cross paths at all”—and yet Watershed leads us to the precipice of that wonder again and again.
—Jennifer K. Sweeney
These poems by Laura Donnelly–clarity, yes. Grace absolutely. And desire’s long shot. But it’s their edge that fills us with past unto future and dread’s empathy, how a dark brilliant Botticelli hangs in an old-world hospital “where typhoid once/lingered below the good angel,” or that “the first half/ of the film … sets you up/to feel worse in the end.” Maybe poems are omens, maybe not. But you don’t feel worse. You deepen instead, reading this work. Like the fine musician she is, Donnelly makes us listen hard to Bach, to everything because “the theme/is only the starting point.” Amid stars and birds, there’s complication. “And I think/ I too fear,” she tells us.
In this book Laura Donnelly explores “the principle of flickering”: how, if we look at anything—or each other—closely enough, we might just detect a being in motion, a thing or a soul in the process of changing. If, as Donnelly argues, “we move through this world in waves . . . / it’s a wonder we cross paths at all.” And yet this is a book of crossings and encounters, observer with painting, musician with elusive notes, cloud shadow with wharf, lover with lover, the flickering of change—nothing holds still—and the loss and the beauty and sometimes the wonder of that. What an exquisite debut collection!
About the Author
Laura Donnelly is the winner of the 2013 Editors’ Prize from Cider Press Review. The winning manuscript, Watershed, is her first full-length collection. Watershed debuted in August, 2014.
Donnelly is the author of the chapbook Nocturne—Schumann’s Letters. Her poems have appeared in Cimarron Review, DIAGRAM, Flyway, Poetry East, Rhino, and elsewhere. Originally from Michigan, she holds an MFA from Purdue University and a PhD from Western Michigan University, where she was Editor-in-Chief of Third Coast. She lives in Central New York with her husband and is on the creative writing faculty at the State University of New York at Oswego.