Minimize Considered makes us aware of place and its effects, as well as nuances of relationships. The poems show us not only our cities but also creatures of the natural world still found there, as for example a pair of coyotes spotted in an outer borough of New York City. The poet leads us to imagine with her: “I picture them: grainy warm concrete/under their compact paws.”
This superior collection places the reader in urban landscapes, notably Toronto and Washington, D.C., while paying attention to things as small as spiders, making themselves at home “anchored in the joint of brushed steel/the height doesn’t bother them/the wind/seventeen floors above the street/fawns over them/feeds small flies into their web/an occasional disoriented wasp . . .”
Murray deftly connects the cities we live in and the natural world we need. Her gift, which is to bridge the two, is valuable today and can, as she words it, make us “suddenly at home half-way around the world.”
Beautiful writing and precise language in Minimize Considered make for no wasted word anywhere, as in “The pavement—dappled mirror–/returns my gaze as winks” and “A girl, tan legs, hair in a wet ponytail, /on a chez lounge, with a book,/with a coke.”
The poems see what is and describe it well. Beyond what is, the poems see into what is. When looking at the work of an artist, the poem goes beyond to “. . . I kept thinking of the ghost of the hog/who’d given his bristles and the elderberry/crushed into paint and the punctured skin of crab apples/oozing vermillion.”
Each of us can be, with Murray, a “voyeur by accident” and “loath to stop” and can learn to make use of one of her methods: “learn to live as a scavenger/ hunt for bits of coherence.” This poet is certainly at her best observing what we could—and do—so easily miss.
Marjorie Saiser is the author of six poetry collections, including Losing the Ring in the River, which won the 2014 Willa Award from Women Writing the West. She tries to write every day. The operative word is try. Saiser’s poems have been published in Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, Poet Lore, Rattle, and on her website, poetmarge.com.
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