Rhythms All Aquiver

Rhythms All Aquiver

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Author: Barbara Wuest

Publisher: Kelsay Books (2020)

"What would happen if we lived our lives as we should, waiting for things to make sense and not presuming that they already do? What kind of sense would things make? Barbara Wuest’s poems are an answer to those questions. There seems to be a waiting moment in each of her poems, a way in which something examined, an owl in the snow, a tree in the yard, a song in a chapel, a picture on a wall, turns into something else, and what becomes clear is nothing one would expect. “All” is the most important word in the title of this compendium, for this is a writer in search of the ‘all’ in everyday life and is willing to wait for it to emerge. In one poem, Wuest calls this place where all returns ‘the tender unknown.’ Accessed by words or images near words, or words that are images, allness has its own language. It’s a language that includes input from forces that meet without tense, at work in an essential rhythm that works mystically to provide balance. If you wait long enough, it seems, the ‘all ‘will reveal itself in strange ways. A flower talks or a saint comes out of a picture. Your mother’s lipstick on a condolence card becomes a kiss or a blessing finding its way to you years after. Rhythms All Aquiver is about what we are waiting for. It is also a guide to waiting, seeing, thinking, and hearing the intimations in everything that is."

—Mary Bartholemy

"In Barbara Wuest’s Rhythms All Aquiver, her most diverse and far-flung collection yet, the challenge of the subject/object, and their inevitable separation, is present in the orchid, in the Chapel of the Stigmata and, most painfully, between children and parents. Again and again, she pokes at it, taking apart the seeing through the lens of a camera, an eye, and through the glass in a framed photo. These elements let us see and keep us apart. The challenge of the second-person pronoun comes through in the final poem in which the speaker struggles to engage 'thou.' At the same time, Wuest captures moments of lovely if often mysterious communication: 'Summer Silence'; 'Stella and Her Late August Garden'; and listening to the Mills Brothers singing 'Till Then.' In these poems, she stresses how crucial it is to document moments that we can recognize as true even when we do not fully understand. The world is complex, and rather than simplify it, she illuminates the richness of it."

—Christopher Nelson