Shadowy Third

Shadowy Third

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Author: Barbara Wuest

Publisher: Aldrich Press (2016)

"Reading Barbara Wuest’s book Shadowy Third reminds me of Denise Levertov’s idea that 'In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.' In Wuest’s poem 'Atlanta Airport,' which is a stylistic and thematic microcosm of the whole collection, she writes about attending a service in an airport chapel. In that finely detailed and ambitious poem, Wuest weaves together literature, her personal history, the voices and histories of others, and the Bible. She asks, 'Are we all, to some degree, every human flaw and perfection?' And in her book’s powerful, meditative, patient, accumulative poems she answers that question. She blends the secular and the spiritual, her voice and stories and others’ voices and stories, the living and the dead, until the distinctions become blurred, become one indistinguishable whole. In 'Mass,' the book’s last poem and a tour de force, Wuest writes 'I wash nothing from this body. / Dust from a day’s work, the impeccable grime from a night’s love, stay with me.' The voice here, as in many other poems in this fine collection, is part prayer, part song, and part declaration."

—Susan Firer

"The poems in Barbara Wuest’s Shadowy Third offer you the living of a real life presented in intensely reflective moments set in an arc of experience spanning earliest childhood to middle age. Through the pin-holes of closely observed, fully realized moments—stepping and then plunging into a lake as a young girl, the perception of a gingko leaf, a few minutes of waiting in the anonymity of an airport lounge—the poet first projects the vastness of a life thoughtfully lived and, through this, evokes the even greater immensity of the mystery that lies beyond its boundaries of birth and death. This is a book about the big often tragic realities that loom behind any moment of thoughtful experience. Like the prose of James Agee’s A Death in the Family, the verse in Shadowy Third achieves its ambitious effects with quiet, unflinching, and supremely transparent language that pulls you fully into the poet’s world then leaves you there looking out at your own through different eyes." 

—James Lewelling