Before There Was Before

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Published by: Iris Press
Release Date: March 31, 2017
Pages: 90
ISBN13: 978-1604542394

 
Overview

Wendy Drexler's Before There Was Before is that rare book that both ranges far, into the worlds of science, nature and art, and moves in close, examining her own particular human experience. Drexler takes us back in time to the Big Bang and projects us 7.5 billion years into the future. She thinks about birds and elephants, flies, beetles, crickets, chameleons. She imagines Monet and Cézanne, she listens to Schubert, looks closely at film, sculpture, paintings and photographs. The pressure of time and the consolations of intimacy, which animate these poems, carry over into the more personal poems, threading the wider vision to the tighter one. Relying always on carefully observed and imagined particulars, she parries the pressure of time with an insistence on living attentively. "Let's take a stab / at the dark," she says in the title poem. Let's "time our tea, // if we have tea, / if we have time." Drexler takes her stab at the dark, and we are all the better for it.


Praise

"In her title poem in Before There Was Before, Wendy Drexler says, “Let’s take a stab at the dark,” a meditation on the beginning of the universe from its terrifyingly vast empty spaces to its first life-sparks. Ignited by the intensity of her gaze, those sparks flare into visions of our world—civilizations past and present, flora and fauna both rare and common, and moments of sorrow alongside moments of grateful plenitude. With a remarkable sureness of touch that comes from knowing the contours of words, she renders what being is."
Jennifer Barber, editor of Salamander; Works on Paper

"This is all good stuff. Serious, playful, reverential, staccato, elegiac, timely, historical— and deeply personal—and all of it written in dark, light, and color."
John Hanson Mitchell, An Eden of Sorts: A Natural History of My Feral Garden

"Wendy Drexler’s Before There Was Before is that rare book that both ranges far, into the worlds of science, nature and art, and moves in close, examining her own particular human experience. Drexler takes us back in time to the Big Bang and projects us 7.5 billion years into the future. She thinks about birds and elephants, flies, beetles, crickets, chameleons. She imagines Monet and Cézanne, she listens to Schubert, looks closely at film, sculpture, paintings and photographs. The pressure of time and the consolations of intimacy, which animate these poems, carry over into the more personal poems, threading the wider vision to the tighter one. Relying always on carefully observed and imagined particulars, she parries the pressure of time with an insistence on living attentively, and we are all the better for it."
Wendy Mnookin, Dinner with Emerson

"Drexler personalizes the poetry, and as a result she makes the poem relevant to readers of all sensibilities."
Doug Holder, publisher of Ibbetson Street journal (read the full review) or in The Somerville Times

"'A poem should begin in delight and end in wisdom,' Robert Frost famously said. Happily, most of the poems in Wendy Drexler’s Before There Was Before follow Frost’s advice. The ones that don’t simply stay at delight. And some, through their attitudes and themes about the natural world, are distinctly Frostian."
Peter Bates, Stylus (read the full review)


Cover art by Tanya Hayes Lee