Little Oblivion, by Susan Allspaw
Susan J. Allspaw's debut collection brims with exquisitely textured poems that capture the essence of Antarctica's stark beauty. In the world of Little Oblivion, we find nesting places for petrels, skuas, adelies, and terns; an underwater home to baby krill, ctenophores, and salps; a terrain striated with sastrugi and punctuated by nunataks; a place saturated with such whiteness that "the sky bleeds into the earth / so that a whole body becomes a palindrome." These luminous poems sweep panoramically across mesmerizing landscapes while meditating on the human condition through deep and reverent encounters with the natural world. "White will follow me everywhere," says the speaker in one of the poems. After reading Little Oblivion, white will follow us, too.
In the isolated beauty of the Antarctic landscape the poems of Little Oblivion remind us of the connection between all living things and the delicate balance of life itself with a perceptiveness--and earthiness--that delight us as much as they move us. Allspaw writes with great clarity about the imaginary horizon "where we must believe in infinity or die." The result is an impressive lyric journey, memorable, acute and wise, which enlarges our experience of the world. --Beckian Fritz Goldberg
These poems story a season in white, give texture and shiver to the page and speaker both, a life offered to the reader and resonant to the thinker in all of us. Place and body, nature and mind--we come to move between these stark measures with ease, creating an in-between place, a liminal sense of snow and cold. "...the song / of weather just off horizon; I would be / the darkness just beyond the bow." Just so. --Alberto Ríos
In Susan Allspaw's Little
Oblivion, Antarctica is not the landscape of waste and desolation but the
place where the crack of calving glaciers are the thunderous valves of the
human heart. Where scientists search for the answers but where questions of
selfhood are as vast as the ice-caked continent. And where the reader, through
seasonal storms will emerge, blinking into the bright promise of these
poems. --Oliver de la Paz
What the Ice Knows
wants the way around melting.
People fall in love with it,
great lovers gliding over
each other without friction,
and hidden mammoth
Even ice over ice creates heat,
melts rough faces
into smooth century-skins,
re-freezes into something
macabre, the terrifying
beauty. We get
lost in that imaginary horizon,
the space where we must
believe in infinity or die
trying to find it.
When we leave,
it clings, the damn child,
the obsessor, the stalker.
The ice never learned to let go.