Jennifer Wallace’s poems, gathered here in “Almost Entirely” — a collection that toggles between the sacred and profane, faith and doubt, love and unrequited love — clearly earns comparisons to such masters as Scott Cairns, Mary Oliver and Christian Wiman — as well as the claim to her own poetic country.
A poet, photographer, and teacher living in Baltimore and rural western Massachusetts, Wallace edits poetry for The Cortland Review, and her religious orientation is described thusly: “after decades of avoidance and experimentation, she decided in her 50s to get serious about her spiritual practice and is now, mostly, happily settled within her Christian roots.”
What pulses through these prayer poems, besides an abiding knowledge of grief coupled with a palpable faith in the afterlife, is the residue of Catholic imagery, a childhood of nuns and priests and Latin prayer. Any one of Wallace’s poems might be a morning’s meditation or analeptic on a sleepless night.
Consider this haunting stanza, from “Requiem,” her seven-part poem: “Perhaps we are here to make of earth a minor heaven / where birds will glide higher / in an air made more full / by the dead’s barely audible sigh.”