Poetry. The fourth poetry collection from Nathalie Anderson, STAIN weaves and romps gracefully through so many cultural layers--World War II fighter pilots, Japanese feasts, methods for creating timeless stained glass, startling reflections on human experience--that the book becomes a profound meditation on consciousness.
A ravenous curiosity fuels and propels the poems in STAIN. The language wanders in awe through England, Japan, and the familial. Striking images brighten the stanzas while gorgeous and astute phrasing beautifully rattles the lines. Nathalie Anderson is a generous explorer and a marvelous poet. --Eduardo C. Corral
Anderson's wondrous new book draws its title from a luminous poem about how 'silver nitrate fired onto glass' will turn it 'sallow, citron, saffron, sulfur.' Instead of focusing on the light church windows transmit, she urges, 'look at what it shines through: / look at the stain.' On other pages, 'the stain' can mean the long shade our parents cast over our lives; the bruise loss leaves; a flush of unruly desire; and the aftertaste of language itself. Anderson is a brilliant reader of faint traces, the 'roister / and ruckus' of koi 'pocking / the pond's skin / from within, ' and she amplifies them via exuberantly sound- driven lines, jammed with alliteration and internal rhyme. STAIN will mesmerize artisans with its craftiness--it contains, for instance, three dazzling and wildly different poetic sequences--but also convert general readers through sheer big-hearted brio. --Lesley Wheeler
STAIN is Anderson's richest collection so far. Fresh and irrepressibly inventive (in language, in image, in the way thought and feeling are yoked together), it moves from secular hymns of praise for the illuminations of stained glass, to elegy-edged family memories, to scalpel-sharp probings of the deeper, darker recesses of the self. These poems are by turns reverent, sexy, celebratory, satiric, epiphanal, matter of fact. Yet, always, they're driven by a singular energy: the poet's busy eye taking in the world, her meditative mind brooding on it, her imagination transforming it. I love how she can be at once or by turns engaged, watchful, detached, humorous, passionate, analytic. It's a book of shifting tones, too: from fierce to tender to devil-may-care. You can hear this, taste it, in the fizz of her diction: 'At Rakusho, it's / huddle and scrum, it's sizzle / and spank, it's spurt and scud.' At heart the collection seems to obey the implicit injunction in one poem about desire: 'One sees. One is enticed. One goes / or not. One pines, or not. That's all.' But one also passionately celebrates. --Eamon Grennan
Nathalie Anderson, co-winner of the 2005 Robert McGovern Publication Prize, is also the winner of the 1998 Washington Prize from The Word Works for her first book, Following Fred Astaire. She published a chapbook and her poems have appeared in several journals. A 1993 Pew Fellow, she serves currently as Poet in Residence at the Rosenbach Museum and Library, and is a Professor in the Swarthmore College Department of English Literature, where she directs the Program in Creative Writing.
Nathalie Anderson is the author of three previous books of poetry-Following Fred Astaire, Crawlers, and Quiver-and libretti for four operas. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Atlanta Review, DoubleTake, Natural Bridge, The New Yorker, and The Recorder. A 1993 Pew Fellow, she serves currently as Poet in Residence at the Rosenbach Museum and Library, and she directs the Program in Creative Writing at Swarthmore College.