Alice Greene & Co., 2014
These are quiet poems, set in varied landscapes, from an arboretum in spring, to a New England orchard, to the Atlantic sea coast. They are epistles from the interior life and memory of an often solitary narrator interested in where and how the mundane meets the metaphysical.
Their brevity and spareness points to limitations and lack, but also to the potency of all that’s held back—the not said. The blank spaces that inhabit and surround these poems resonate with themes of desire and belonging, separateness and exile.
Under the influence of ancient Japanese forms like the haiku and tanka, Pilgrim constructs meaning from encounters in nature, or scenes viewed from a window; these poems observe the things and routines of the world—polar bears in a changing environment or the daily chore of washing dishes—and pronounces all of it sacred.
These beautiful poems exude an elegant calm, a dolce, that is rare in contemporary poetry and even more rarified in what passes for society. The voice is pure “nightfall…a long blue dress,” and the images enact what a philosopher referred to as sudden salience on the psyche. A chicken picking windfall pears. Two children quiet as mint. Holly Wren Spaulding takes, in the words of Li Po, “the earth for a pillow and the great heaven as a coverlet,” and wakes with these gentle but poignant poems.
— Chris Dombrowski, author of 'Earth Again'
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