Air, Light, Dust, Shadow, Distance
2017 Winner of the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award
by Mary Ann Samyn
paperback, 88 pages
Like its titular catalog of nearly weightless, ephemeral phenomena, the brief lyrics in Mary Ann Samyn's new book are only deceptively slight. Rather, they offer, as she writes in "Desire,'' a lesson in how little ' it takes to trigger the most enormous feelings: fear, longing, grief, vulnerability, intimacy. The push of wind on water, presaging snow; the web of skin between the thumb and forefinger; heat shimmering between two proximate bodies; fingers touching a collar; the glance of a deer all signal pent emotions whose force might explode if not for this poet s exquisite, signature, courageous restraint amidst the suffering of love.
—Lisa Russ Spaar
Mary Ann Samyn's Air, Light, Dust, Shadow, Distance is a book of lyric meditation unlike any I know of. It's as if Rilke took a vow to speak in end-stopped lines and let the mystery resonate in the pauses. Clipped, incisive, layered phrases surround heart-mysteries that resist direct articulation. The effect is haunted and haunting, as Dickinson said it should be.