BOOK REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS
ON ALMOST ENTIRELY,
INTERVIEW WITH WILL WOOLFITT of "SPEAKING OF MARVELS"
REVIEW BY MARY HARWELL SAYLER
In this age of cynicism and, often, fury, Jennifer Wallace lifts us from doubt and despair into spiritual insight and buoyancy in her new book of poems Almost Entirely published by Paraclete Press, who kindly sent me a copy to review.
REVIEW BY GRAHAM CHRISTIAN IN THE LIBRARY JOURNAL
Wallace’s new collection is a stark book: sincere in its continual engagement with doubt, silence, absence, and loneliness.
Between Faith & Doubt REVIEW BY ANN CONWAY in Image Journal Update
Referring to her new poetry collection, Jennifer Wallace remarks, “I like the sense of ‘entirely’ modified by ‘almost’... That’s my sense of life in this world.” These short poems limn the course of a mature artistic life and its struggle between faith and doubt, the incarnate and the unseen, love and loss. Almost Entirely, Wallace’s seventh book, examines the search for wholeness, including re-exploration of Wallace’s Christian roots. In the opening section, “The Wind of God” is evoked as it “...moved over the face of the waters.” Yet often, the writer notes, “God has turned my head in the right direction/ yet I haven’t seen the gesture for what it is.” Vision necessitates discernment. Recalling Kierkegaard’s observation that “Christianity is not a consolation/ but a demand,” Wallace observes, “Call me crazy, hardship appeals/.... now the problem of attending it begins.” But attention can be difficult. Of a friend’s murder, the poet writes: “How to feel his death? On the street. / The shots. My friend’s scream.” Even the faith that allows one to bear a “wing giving way” brings “meanings that will shatter me more than this.” Nothing is sentimentalized here. As “I Don’t Like People; Animals, Too, Are an Imposition” relates, our lives daily encompass ordinary trials, like “a mean as a chainsaw bad neighbor.” It is ours to get on with things; the poet “has chores to do: chop wood, fix the wall in my yard.” But luckily, there is also grace’s blinding flash, that occasional release to something else, almost entirely: “resting on its surface with sail or paddle/I am brought beyond my landedness/not until diving under can I know/ its pillowed, dull moss-light...a body is seen at last for what it is:/awash in the eye of God.”
REVIEW BY GLYNN YOUNG IN tweetspeak: the best in poetry and poetic things
What Wallace does is to look deeply at what makes us human, and what is within us that keeps reaching for the divine.
REVIEW BY Barbara Mahany in the Chicago Tribune http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/books/sc-books-spiritual-roundup-0214-story.html
Thank you, Barbara Mahany....and be sure to read the whole review, also featuring books by Meera Lee Patel & Margaret Dulaney
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.”