Melissa Kwasny’s Thistle (2006)

Over the next few weeks or months, I will post all my reviews (“Tom’s Celebrations”) that appeared in Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose (formerly Redactions: Poetry & Poetics) up to and including issue 12. After that, my reviews appeared here (The Line Break) before appearing in the journal. This review first appeared in issue 6/7, which was published circa mid-2006.


Melissa Kwasny's – ThistleMelissa Kwasny’s Thistle (Lost Horse Press) opens with the Emily Dickinson quote, “The career of flowers differs from ours only in audibleness.” The quote provides a good frame for this collection of poems, for in Thistle, Kwasny is trying to hear the flowers, plants, & herbs by visually observing them, &, at times, by making associations to them through her own life. That is, she is projecting her emotions & life onto the personality of the vegetation & hoping that by comparison & by talking to the plant, she will acquire a metaphysical hearing or a hearing of the plant through meditation.

   The listening I do in winter is simple.
   I watch you like a stranger. I watch me.

These poems, at times, almost seem like they are a session of psychological therapy, where the plants acts as a psychologist, but that is only something I think about in reflection of the book.

While Kwasny often hears the plants through projection (& sometimes through smell, “a fume to force the bud of my heart”), the reader will hear each plant’s voice talk through the lyrical poems’ tones & rhythms. Each poem is for one specific plant, herb, or flower, & each poem has musical subtleties that reflect the plant’s voice, & Thistle is a bouquet of plants speaking poems.//




Kwasny, Melissa. Thistle. Sandpoint, ID: Lost Horse Press, 2006.//

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